A regular pilgrim ferry to Nagadeepa, but I’m told they use similar boats.
In the first half of 2012, 1,413 Sri Lankans have been apprehended trying to get to Australia by boat. These boats are unsafe, uncomfortable and cost more than $9,000 for a dangerous 2-week to monthlong journey. These numbers are HUGE jump from 211 last year, 579 in 2010, and 739 to 2009. Which is weird, because the war ended in 2009 and you would think that things are getting better. Except for a lot of people, it seems that they’re not. Taking an illegal, ramshackle boat to Australia is risking your savings and life on uncertain prospects. You have to really want to leave.
Amantha Perera has the score, in IRIN:
When Arunalan*, 20, decided to go on the dangerous 8,000km journey by boat to Australia, his family wasn’t surprised. “There are no jobs in Sri Lanka,” his mother told IRIN. But instead he has joined a growing number of young men – mostly from the conflict-affected north and east – in jail.
Like many others, Arunalan made the attempt and was arrested by the Sri Lankan authorities at the end of June.
But sometimes they succeed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a record year for Sri Lankans,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesman for the Australian Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney. (SRI LANKA: More people boarding boats to Australia)
I had a friend who worked at a noodle company who said they could track where people were migrating from because random towns would suddenly buy up lots of instant noodles (and biscuits and things) for the long, arduous journey. But I don’t think the numbers were as they are now. I think this is partly ‘pent-up demand’ from the North and East (formerly under tight LTTE control), perhaps reduced maritime patrolling (since the war ended), and a sign that things just aren’t as good as all the investment and infrastructure talk would have you believe.