Penang Deputy Chief Minister offers to assist Lankan refugees

ramasamy-jusuf-jalla-1Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy has offered to give humanitarian assistance to the Indonesian Government for ethnic Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka marooned at the shores of Aceh for more than a week, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Ramasamy explained that Aceh governor Zaini Abdullah said permission by the Indonesian central Government was required first before the DAP leader could visit them.

“I have spoken to Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla about the refugees. He said they are doing their best to take care of them.

“I have contacted the United Nations Commissioner of Human Rights as well,” he told FMT.

The government of Aceh has offered assistance to 40 displaced Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, who showed up at their shores on June 11 after their boat suffered from engine trouble in Indonesian waters.

The refugees were headed to Christmas Islands, Australia to seek asylum and employment. Their embarked on their sea voyage to the islands south of Java after failing to obtain Indian citizenship in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu.

Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Sri Lankan Tamils, including a seven-month-old baby and a pregnant woman were allowed to disembark their boat.

Indonesian authorities had initially denied the refugees permission to leave their boat as none had travel documents on them. The authorities however relented after storms tilted the boat early Saturday morning, the Australian daily reported.

The refugees have now been placed in tents by the beach and received food and drink. The Indonesian government has also signalled their willingness to repair their boat and tow them back into international waters so that they can continue their voyage to Christmas Islands. (Colombo Gazette)