UNHCR Chief Guterres laments loss of life from boat tragedy off Indonesia

Press Releases, 19 December 2011

GENEVA, December 19 (UNHCR) The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is deeply saddened by the loss of life caused by the sinking of an overcrowded vessel off Java, Indonesia, on Saturday, 17 December.

It is hard for anyone not to be moved by the great human toll this incident seems to have caused, Guterres said. Time and again in 2011, we have seen in seas around the world, people risking their lives to find asylum. This is a further tragic reminder that desperate people resort to desperate measures.

As of Monday, available reports indicated that around 200 people, including many children and women, were still missing from Saturdays capsizing, with only a few dozen having been rescued. Those on board are presumed to have been asylum seekers.

UNHCR stands ready to assist the Indonesian government in registering and assessing the claims of those among the rescued who wish to seek asylum. The UN refugee agency is currently seeking to establish whether there were people on the boat who may have already registered as asylum seekers or been recognized as refugees.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Bangkok, Thailand: Kitty Mckinsey on mobile +66 818 270 280
  • In Geneva: Melissa Fleming on mobile +41 79 557 9122
  • Adrian Edwards on mobile +41 79 557 9120
  • Andrej Mahecic on mobile +41 79 200 7617
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