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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 00:42 GMT 01:42 UK
Indonesia hosts migrant summit
By Rachel Harvey
BBC correspondent in Jakarta

Refugees on Norwegian ship Tampa in August 2001
Many migrants have made for Australia by sea
Ministers from more than 40 countries are expected to attend a regional meeting on people-smuggling being held on the Indonesian island of Bali on Monday.

The three-day conference is being co-hosted by Indonesia and Australia.

The issue has come to the fore in recent weeks with reports of two boats of Vietnamese asylum seekers trying to reach Australia.

Indonesia has more than 14,000 islands and no specific law on people smuggling, which why it has become a favoured transit point for asylum seekers heading for Australia.


The issue has been a source of considerable friction between Jakarta and Canberra.

Two years ago an overcrowded boat full of Iraqis and Afghans sank en route from Indonesia to Australia, and more than 350 died.

Jawad, an Iraqi exile, knew many of the people on that boat.

But it didn't deter him from trying to make the journey himself.

"I took a ticket from Iraq to Malaysia and after that the smugglers were waiting for us in the airport and they took us to their apartment," he said.

"We stayed maybe three weeks and after that we came to Jakarta."

Jakarta was supposed to be a stepping stone to Australia.

But after three unsuccessful attempts Jawad has given up.

Vietnamese efforts

Getting into Australia has become much more difficult since the government there introduced tough new immigration policies.

But it seems some are still determined to try.

In the past week two boatloads of Vietnamese have been discovered in Indonesian waters.

One was allowed to put ashore after its engine broke down.

The other boat was given fresh supplies by the Indonesian authorities and sent on its way, much to the annoyance of the Australians.

The co-hosts will have plenty of talking to do when the conference gets down to business.

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