Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe told his parliament this week that the economy has “collapsed” and the government was unable to buy crude supplies, with final stocks running out this week. The fuel and food shortage has hit the low and middle income groups pretty hard, with many fleeing the country using both legal and illegal means.
Hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamils have tried to undertake dangerous sea journeys to Australia, India and towards Africa since May, amid another “wave” of migrants wanting to leave the South Asian nation as it battles its worst economic crisis since 1948.
Members of the Sri Lankan Tamil community have told Sputnik that most of those wanting to leave the country by sea belong to the Tamil community, which is concentrated in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
While "immigration agents" charge around $800 for a trip to India, the cost for such a voyage to Australia is around $4,000, a voyage that takes up to 21 days. The trips are arranged on "unseaworthy fishing vessels," people familiar with the matter have said.
Since last month, the Sri Lankan Navy has intercepted hundreds of fishing trawlers, which were caught illegally carrying migrants from northern and eastern cities to Australia, India and even “western waters”, as per official statements.