Afghani asylum seekers dropped in Indonesia, thinking they'd made it to Australia

Afghani asylum seekers dropped in Indonesia, thinking they'd made it to Australia

Of all the travel rip-offs, the story of 128 people escaping a war-torn country -- then being duped for their cash -- is one of the worst
Afghani refugees
Afghani refugees protest their detainment at Woomera Detention Centre in 2002.

Every traveler has their hard luck stories: when their bungalow was robbed, the time a Thai lady-boy stole their cash or when they thought they were buying a bag of something that ended up being grass clippings.

But imagine spending 15 times your annual income for a ticket that was fake.

That’s the story of 128 Afghani asylum seekers whose planned journey to Australia this week ended on N’Dao, an Indonesian island 50 kilometers from Ashmore Reef off northern Australia.

The plight of the Afghanis was revealed in “The Sydney Morning Herald.”

N’Dao is a port-of-call for people smugglers not wanting to risk the 20-year mandatory sentence if they are caught in Australian waters.

Smugglers can make up to $4,000 per person for dropping them near N’Dao -- a lot more than the $300 the average Afghani makes per year working in their own country.

The tragedy behind this travel story is one with which most can surely empathize.

These 128 people spent their life savings to escape a war-torn country. They battled notoriously rough seas in a barely seaworthy craft.

They made it.

They walked ashore into a new life, thanking the crew -- which speedily departed.

Then, realizing they were in Indonesia, they were taken by police boat to Rote Island.

Now they are being transferred to Kupang in West Timor, to be placed among the thousands of other asylum seekers that arrive in Indonesia every year, according to the UNHCR.

The 128 will be locked up under local immigration laws.