Colombo: Australia Monday said it has adopted a hard line in tackling the problem of illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka and warned others from attempting such journey.
"Australia was firm in its dedication to sending back as many illegal migrants as possible," Australia`s regional director for immigration Jose Alvarez told reporters here.
Since mid August Australian authorities have sent back 255 Sri Lankan illegal entrants, Alvarez said.
He said the illegal migrants are assessed on a case by case basis in accordance with Australian law and UN conventions, which means that any person not covered by Australia`s international obligations will be returned to their country of origin quickly.
"Sri Lanka has an effective people smuggling network that gives people hope for a better economic life abroad. We have seen that most people attempt to illegally enter Australia due to economic situations, which has been a global trend for many years," he said.
Sri Lanka, disturbed by the recurring cases of risky boat rides of its citizens mostly from the minority Tamil community, urged Australia to turn them back as a deterrent.
Australia responded by legislating new laws which permitted them to set up off shore reception centres for illegal immigrants.
"People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away. There is no visa awaiting them on arrival, no speedy outcome and no special treatment," Alvarez said.
The Australian government is working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to provide reintegration assistance in the form of livelihood training, medical care and even limited monetary handouts.
However the involuntary returnees and human smuggling racketeers will not have access to this assistance.
Alvarez said information they have on people smugglers will be shared with Sri Lankan authorities to assist in arrests and investigations.