Stop refugees' dangerous journey: Aus politician

An Australia Green politician says asylum seekers require a humanitarian response, and safer pathways. Photo / File
An Australia Green politician says asylum seekers require a humanitarian response, and safer pathways. Photo / File

The federal government must do more to stop asylum seekers making the perilous sea journey to Australia, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says.

After the sinking of a boat bound for Australia with about 250 asylum seekers on board in waters off East Java, the senator said the issue remained a humanitarian one which required a humanitarian response.

"We can't continue to allow the humanitarian needs of asylum seekers to get caught up in the politics of border protection and national security," she told reporters in Adelaide today.

"Australia has a responsibility to set an example in our region in how to treat asylum seekers with dignity and response and to uphold their human rights.

"But if we want to avoid people taking that treacherous journey we need to do more to stop them jumping on boats in the first place, and that means safer pathways."

The senator said Australia should increase its humanitarian intake of refugees, particularly the number taken directly from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Today, rescuers said they had found a 34th survivor from the sinking but held out little hope of finding any more people alive.

The search resumed at 7am local time (1100 AEDT), with an Australian navy patrol boat and a surveillance aircraft due to join the operation later.

Australian Federal Police officers have been deployed from Jakarta to assist the investigation, at the request of the Indonesian National Police.

The death toll was expected to exceed 150, with authorities concerned that as many as 40 children might have perished when the boat sank in rough seas on Saturday.

The survivors were taken to an immigration facility in the town of Blitar, about 170km from Surabaya, the capital of East Java.

Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens stood by their support for onshore processing of asylum seekers in Australia, despite the latest boat tragedy.

"You don't deter people who are fleeing for their lives from reaching safety by locking them up, incarcerating them and driving them mad," she said.

"Which is what we have done in the past."

- AAP

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