22 Jan 2016

Refugees hoping to sail to NZ arrested

6:12 pm on 22 January 2016

Six Sri Lankan refugees have been arrested for allegedly preparing to sail to New Zealand from India.

Sri Lanka's navy rescued 70 would-be illegal immigrants drifting in high seas last year.

Sri Lanka's navy rescued 70 would-be illegal immigrants drifting in high seas last year. Photo: AFP

Indian police arrested the refugees for conspiring to illegally sail across the Indian Ocean for New Zealand, The Times of India reported.

The six men, from Velankanni in Southern India, were caught by the Tamil Nadu state police Q-Branch, which monitors activities of banned organisations.

The men, from two refugee camps, have been remanded to a prison in the state capital of Chennai, The Times of India article said.

The men reportedly told authorities, under interrogation, they planned to sail a boat more than 11,000 kilometres to New Zealand.

Each of the men allegedly paid nearly $16,000 to a people smuggler.

Several boatloads of refugees sailing to New Zealand have been intercepted, including 65 from Sri-Lanka and Bangladesh in Western Australia last year, and 66 off eastern Indonesia in 2013.