Nine Afghans found adrift at sea in the New Territories

Nine Afghans found adrift at sea in the New Territories

Afghan asylum seekers were caught entering the city for the first time yesterday, intercepted in the early hours with other South Asians aboard an unlit wooden sampan off Tuen Mun.

The nine Afghans included a husband and wife and their sons aged two and three. A second Afghan woman was on board the boat, along with four men.

Police found the Afghans, along with 10 Pakistanis and a Nepali, at 2.25am off Black Point, squeezed aboard a flimsy vessel just 10 metres long, which only had room for five people.

'There was no light, no life jackets, [it was] a very, very crowded situation,' Superintendent John Cameron, of the marine police's small boat division, said.

Fermi Wong Wai-fun, campaign director of the group Unison Hong Kong for Ethnic Equality, said Afghans fled their country because their lives were under threat from the volatile situation. 'They might have tried to come here because they heard Hong Kong also has a system for asylum seekers,' Wong said.

Initial investigations showed they had paid 4,000 to 5,000 yuan (HK$4,500 to HK$5,680) to be taken from Shekou in Shenzhen to Hong Kong, where they intended to seek political asylum.

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