The Australian Border Force’s largest patrol vessel, Ocean Shield, has conducted official visits to ports in Sri Lanka and India for the first time.
Australian Border Force crew has shared knowledge and conducted operational activities with the Sri Lankan Navy and the Indian Coast Guard as well.
The Commander of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders, Air Vice-Marshal Stephen Osborne explained why these visits are important. “People smuggling is a global problem. By working together with our international partners, we will defeat these criminals and help save people’s lives,” he said.
Air Vice-Marshal Osborne said effective international cooperation and information sharing has enhanced Australia’s ability to stop people smuggling boats. “Earlier this year Australia intercepted a people smuggling boat carrying 25 Sri Lankan nationals. In cooperation with Sri Lankan authorities, all 25 people on that vessel were returned to Sri Lanka.
“It has now been more than 1000 days since the last people smuggling boat reached Australian shores, and more than three years since the last known death at sea because of people smuggling. Despite the progress that Australia and our international partners have made in the fight against people smuggling, smugglers across our region continue trying to convince Officer of the Guard, Lieutenant PJ Bakelmun welcomes Commanding Officer of Ocean Shield, Superintendent Alan Champkin to Sri Lanka vulnerable people to hand over their money and attempt to travel to Australia illegally by boat.
Air Vice-Marshal Osborne is encouraging Sri Lankan-Australian community members to tell their relatives overseas not to risk their lives and waste their money by attempting to come illegally to Australia. “Trying to reach Australia illegally by boat is dangerous and pointless. Any people smuggling boat that tries to reach Australia will be stopped and turned back. The illegal pathway to Australia is closed, and it will remain closed.”