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56 Sri Lankan asylum seekers win resettlement, end standoff

November 19, 2009|Associated Press

JAKARTA, INDONESIA — Dozens of Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Wednesday left an Australian customs vessel anchored off Indonesia after they were promised they would be resettled, ending a monthlong standoff.

The 46 men, five women and five children were taken from Australia's Oceanic Viking to a detention center on nearby Bintan island off Sumatra, said Sugiyo, the center's head. They joined 22 others who disembarked last week.

The Oceanic Viking rescued the Sri Lankans last month from a boat with a broken engine as it drifted in international waters near Indonesia.

Sujatmiko, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry's director for diplomatic security, said Australia promised to resettle the asylum seekers.

Both Sugiyo and Sujatmiko use only one name.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the Sri Lankans had no guarantee of resettlement in Australia. He said they could be resettled in Canada, New Zealand or a Scandinavian nation.

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