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East Timor: Sri Lankan boat

Briefing notes

East Timor: Sri Lankan boat

30 July 2002

UNHCR has distributed food, water and blankets to 56 passengers of a Sri Lankan boat which docked last Sunday at Dili harbour, East Timor. A World Health Organization doctor has also been brought to the boat to assess the medical condition of the passengers. The vessel is currently anchored off Dili harbour. UNHCR is in constant touch with the East Timorese authorities, ready to assess possible asylum claims from the group, should they be allowed to disembark and if they wish to seek asylum. Most of the boat's passengers appear to be male Sri Lankan Sinhalese. They were apparently headed from Sri Lanka to New Zealand. It is unclear why they decided to stop at Dili harbour. The boat, named Cey-Nor, is a 14-metre Sri Lankan-registered vessel. It reportedly left Sri Lanka on June 21, piloted by a Sri Lankan captain. Since newly independent East Timor does not have an asylum law or expertise in handling asylum claims, UNHCR has expressed willingness to assess possible asylum applications from those on board the Cey Nor.