New Zealand to consider taking rescued Tamil refugees

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Auckland, Dec 18(ANI): New Zealand Government has said that it will consider taking some of the 78 Tamil boatpeople rescued by the Oceanic Viking, after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia determined them all to be refugees.

The Tamils were rescued at sea by an Australian customs ship, but refused to get off for more than a month after they were taken to an Indonesian port.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed the issue was being dealt with at the highest level.

"If people from the Oceanic Viking were to be included as part of the normal refugee quota selection process facilitated by the UNHCR, New Zealand would be prepared to consider them," The Australian quoted the spokeswoman, as saying.

The 78 Tamils were rescued by Oceanic Viking in October and taken to the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pinang, but they refused to get off the boat, insisting they be taken to Australia, their original destination.

Under the deal between Australia, Indonesia and the 78 asylum seekers, the longest period any of them will wait will be 12 weeks.

According to reports, Norway, Canada and the United States may also be asked to take some of the Oceanic Viking refugees. (ANI)

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