The New Zealand Labour Department, which is in charge of immigration, has confirmed that the Indian pilgrims, who were spending time in New Zealand en route to attending Pope Benedict XVI’s mass in Sydney, have gone missing.
Thirty- two Indian youths, who were granted one-month visitor visa in New Zealand on their way to Australia, are absconding as the week-long Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) festivities kicks off in Sydney on Monday.
The labour department is working with the Catholic Church in Auckland to trace the pilgrims, who disappeared from their church billets. Immigration New Zealand is also working closely with its counterparts in Australia to find the youth.
The disappeared pilgrims did not have their passports with them. The pilgrims were billeted with church members in Auckland under so-called Days in the Diocese programme before going to Australia. As many as 220 Indian pilgrims, who were given one-month New Zealand visitor visas earlier in July, will be leaving for Sydney on Tuesday.