Australia gifts warboats to Sri Lanka to stop refugees

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed Australia will give two Bay class patrol boats to Sri Lanka to help combat people smuggling in the Indian Ocean.

The former Australian Customs vessels have seen about 10 years of service and will be brought back to full operational capability at a cost of $2 million.

Mr Abbott made the announcement on Sunday (Nov 17) in Sri Lanka where he is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

"People smuggling is a curse. It is a curse, it is an evil trade," he said.

"This is why the promises that the people smugglers offer are promises of death, not life.

"It is important that Sri Lanka has an enhanced search-and-rescue capacity, an enhanced interdiction capacity and that's what these two Bay class patrol boats will offer the Sri Lankan navy."

The patrol boats, which are being gifted to Sri Lanka under a memorandum of understanding, will be used for humanitarian purposes.

Australia will also provide training along with the boats.

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