May 30, 2012
A boatload of asylum seekers has arrived at Cocos Islands, 2750 kilometres north-west of Perth, overnight
Islander John Clunies-Ross said the large boat had about 40 men on board, one of whom was visibly sick, and an unknown number of women and children.
He believed they had travelled from Sri Lanka before arriving at Cocos Islands sometime last night.
Volunteers were now helping the island’s two Federal Police and Customs officials to process and quarantine the asylum seekers, who will likely be housed at the Cocos Club, the island’s only pub and cyclone shelter.
“The other issue at the moment is our ship hasn’t unloaded our supplies yet and the shop here services only 100 people and you put an extra 100-odd people in here over three weeks and you’re really stretching our stocks,” Mr Clunies-Ross said.
A resident who did not wish to be named said the arrivals would put a large strain on island volunteers, community groups and clubs and the supermarket.
“All the volunteers also have their other jobs, they’re teachers and electricians and shire workers, they all have to give up their jobs to go and volunteer,” she said.
“It’s a big strain on the local community. It’s definitely not an ideal situation.”