Sri Lanka

First refugees from Oceanic Viking arrive in Australia

News and Press Release
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CANBERRA, Dec 21, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The first refugees from the Oceanic Viking arrived in Australia on Monday.

Two Sri Lankans flew into the country Sunday and 13 others are on their way to Canada via a United Nations resettlement center in Romania.

The group of 78 was rescued at sea by the Australian Customs vessel before being taken to Indonesia's Bintan Island, where they refused to disembark for a month.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has now determined that all of the Tamils are refugees and it is negotiating with other countries about resettling the remaining 63 refugees.

Under the deal the Australian government struck with Indonesia, many of the Tamils were promised they would be resettled four to six weeks after they agreed to leave the ship.