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Asylum Seeker Boat reached Christmas Island undetected 20 November 2015

Asylum seeker boat reported to have come within 200m of Christmas Island
The boat appears to approached Flying Fish Cove in the early hours of the morning before being intercepted by Australian officials

Flying Fish cove on Christmas Island. An asylum seeker boat reportedly came within 200m of the harbour on Friday morning. Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Friday 20 November 2015 11.57 AEDT

A boat reportedly carrying asylum seekers was intercepted close to Christmas Island on Friday, the first to reach Australian waters since June 2014.

The boat made it within 200m of Flying Fish Cove before it was boarded by Australian officials, sources on the island told Guardian Australia.
It is unclear whether the boat was intercepted by Australian navy or Border Force staff.

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Those on board were given life jackets. The boat was moved further away from the island and covered in a tarpaulin so the arrivals cannot be counted or identified, the sources said.
It is the first boat to reach Australian waters since June last year, when 157 Sri Lankan Tamils were intercepted about 300km from the island. They were held on board for a month and, after negotiations to send them back to India broke down, transferred to immigration detention in Nauru.
Australia claims to have “turned back” 20 boats since Operation Sovereign Borders began in late 2013. Boats have been forcibly sent back to Indonesia and Sri Lanka, some crashing on reefs and requiring rescue.
In May at least one boat returned to Indonesia after the crew was paid by Australian government officials, according to an investigation by Amnesty International. The immigration department has not denied paying the people smugglers, but maintained it had acted within international law at all times.
The Greens immigration spokeswoman, senator Sarah Hanson-Young, called on the government to let the boat land safely and unload its passengers.
“The safest thing to do now is to let these people land on Christmas Island and find out who they are,” she said.
“It’s clear that, despite the government’s repeated claims, the boats haven’t stopped.”
An immigration detention centre has operated on the Australian territory since 2001. Its population has changed in the past months to include fewer asylum seekers and more “501s” – migrants whose visas have been cancelled and who face imminent deportation.
At 14 November, the detention facility on the island was home to 199 detainees, 113 of whom, according to the Australian government, had criminal convictions.
The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed on Friday that 12 New Zealanders had been deported from the facility after riots broke out earlier this month, following the death of an Iranian asylum seeker.

The department of immigration has been contacted for comment on the latest asylum boat.

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