There are now more 230 Australian officials supporting Operation Bring Them Home, the project to bring back the bodies of those who died in the crash of MH17, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott
The 50 Australian Federal Police officers who had pre-deployed to London are moving forward to the Netherlands where they will be joined by reinforcements from Australia.
Mr Abbott told a press conference it remains his mission “to secure the remains, to assist the investigation and to obtain justice for the victims and their loved ones”.
He said: “It is, I stress, a humanitarian mission. Others can get involved if they wish in the politics of eastern Europe.”
The Malaysian Airlines aircraft was shot down on July 17 over Ukraine, killing 298 people including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
Abbott said armed personnel are needed on the ground.
“Well, the last thing we want to do is to place anyone in danger. We don’t want to compound the tragedy of MH17 – the atrocity of MH17 – with any more tragedy,” he said. “But, we do want to bring our dead home.”
The recovery is becoming increasingly time-sensitive, said the Prime Minister.
“It’s important that we do our best to secure the site and to recover remains as quickly as possible because every day the site remains unsecured, there is more interference.”
Legal arrangements with Ukraine to get Australian police, some of them armed, to take a lead role in securing the MH17 crash site are expected to be completed this week.