Asylum boat disaster a 'tragedy' - UNHCR

MV Cape Oceania is seen off the coast of Christmas Island as it takes part in a rescue effort after a suspected asylum seeker boat capsized, near Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images
MV Cape Oceania is seen off the coast of Christmas Island as it takes part in a rescue effort after a suspected asylum seeker boat capsized, near Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images

The UN's refugee agency has called on Australia to redouble its efforts to find safer ways for asylum seekers to pursue protection in the wake of the latest boat disaster.

Up to 90 people are feared dead after an overpacked boat capsized between Indonesia and Christmas Island on Thursday.

A total of 109 people have been rescued so far.

The UNHCR says the tragedy underscores the dangerous nature of these hazardous journeys.

"It also reinforces the need for renewed international solidarity and cooperation to find protection options for people that would help to reduce the need for these perilous journeys by boat," the agency said in a statement.

"UNHCR calls on Australia and countries in the region to redouble their efforts to provide safer and more secure options for people to find protection other than through these dangerous and exploitative boat journeys."

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 03 Sep 2014 05:20:32 Processing Time: 459ms