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Last updated: 27 October, 2009 - Published 18:17 GMT
 
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Migrants seek UN intervention
 
Sri Lankan migrants on board a boat off Indonesia
The migrants were intercepted on their way to Australia in early October

Sri Lankans stranded in boats off Indonesian coast are calling upon the United Nations to intervene in order to help them secure asylum.

An immigrant talking to BBC Sandesaya over the phone from a vessel said, "if Australia does not grant us asylum, the UN should discuss the options with us".

He said that these are, "fatherless, motherless, kinless and limbless people," who have fled the war in their homeland.

UN intervention

The Indonesian foreign ministry says it's trying to verify the identity of more than three hundred Sri Lankan asylum seekers who are still stranded on two boats in two locations off the Indonesian coast.

 These are fatherless, motherless, kinless and limbless people who have fled the war in their homeland
 
An asylum seeker on board the vessel

Foreign ministry spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah told the BBC Indonesian service, that authorities are trying to find out "whether they are genuine asylum seekers or just migrants who seek a better life in another county".

However, the spokesman said that they are in contact with local authorities to provide the immigrants with humanitarian aid.

They were intercepted by the Australian navy this month while trying to reach Australia.

Indonesian and Australian leaders have agreed to co-operate over the issue.

Earlier, the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended his hard-line decision to seek Indonesian help to stop illegal migrants.

One group of seventy-eight Sri Lankans are in an Australian vessel off the coast of Sumatra.

More than two-hundred-and-fifty others have been docked at the Indonesian port of Merak for more than two weeks.

 
 
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