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Immigrant Ship Arrives in Canada

Tamil refugees arrive in Canada, one man died during trip. Smugglers suspected to have made $20 million An estimated 450 migrants from Sri Lanka arrived in British Columbia Friday aboard the MV SUN SEA, a Thai-flagged cargo ship. Canadian officials have been anticipating the arrival of this vessel, as reports months ago speculated the ship was carrying members of the Tamil Tigers, a group Canada labeled as a terrorist group back in 2006. Canadian officials reported that everyone onboard appears to be families fleeing Sri Lanka, they are however processing each migrant to determine if any are members of the Tigers. The migrants, ranging from two-years-old to seventy-years-old, were in good shape considering the months at sea in confined spaces. They have told officials that they lived off water, rice and dried fish. One man, 37-years-old, died just three weeks before the ships arrival of an apparent disease. He was buried at sea. The Tamil Tigers fought for an independent state in Sri Lanka, claiming decades of discrimination the Sinhalese majority. The conflict killed more than 80,000 people and ended after a government operation against the Tigers. Tamil leaders in Canada say the ethnic Tamil minority still faces persecution, which is why they are seeking asylum in Canada. The United Nations have reported people in Sri Lanka are still being abused. Speculation still surrounds the ship, and officials say that the refugees paid between $40,0 and $50,000 per person to flee Sri Lanka. If this is true, human smugglers may have made a profit as high as $20 million. Hearings of refugee claims began Monday in Vancouver at the offices of the Immigration and Refugee Board. The board will decide on a person-by-person basis on whether to keep the refugees in jail or grant them release to file claims to stay in Canada. Canada is home to about 300,000 Tamils, the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka and India. Photo Courtesy of The Globe and Mail