The United Nations refugee chief today mourned the loss of life caused by the sinking of an overcrowded vessel off the coast of Indonesia on Saturday that has reportedly left around 200 people, including many women and children, still missing.
As of today, only a few dozen people have been rescued following the capsizing of the boat off the island of Java, according to a news release issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Those on board are presumed to have been asylum-seekers.
“It is hard for anyone not to be moved by the great human toll this incident seems to have caused,” said High Commissioner António Guterres.
“Time and again in 2011, we have seen in seas around the world, people risking their lives to find asylum. This is a further tragic reminder that desperate people resort to desperate measures,” he added.
UNHCR said it stands ready to assist the Indonesian Government in registering and assessing the claims of those among the rescued who wish to seek asylum.
It is currently seeking to establish whether there were people on the boat who may have already registered as asylum-seekers or been recognized as refugees.
Last month UNHCR called on the international community to cooperate more closely to deal with irregular migration after the deaths of at least nine people, apparently asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia, when their boat capsized off the coast of Java.