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Australia to give Malaysia boats to tackle people-smuggling

Published on Feb 6, 2014 10:25 AM

SYDNEY (AFP) - The Australian government on Thursday said it will give Malaysia two customs boats as a gift, part of a strategy to tackle people-smuggling in the region.

Most asylum-seeker boats bound for Australia make the precarious journey from Indonesia, but Malaysia is sometimes used as a transit country to transport people through the Thai-Malay border to Sumatra across the Malacca Strait.

The Bay Class vessels, which Australia is phasing out, will be handed over in mid-2015 with Immigration Minister Scott Morrison calling it a "practical operational strategy to stem this criminal trade".

It follows Canberra giving two patrol boats to Colombo for similar reasons late in 2013. Dozens of boats bound for Australia have also departed from Sri Lanka for what can be a three-week voyage.

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