News / Asia

Australia Transfers Asylum Seekers From Troubled Offshore Camp

An activist from the "Refugee Action Coalition" yells out during a rally in Sydney in support of refugees (2010 File)
An activist from the "Refugee Action Coalition" yells out during a rally in Sydney in support of refugees (2010 File)

Unrest at Australia’s largest immigration detention center, at Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, has forced the government to transfer inmates to facilities on the mainland. There have been violent disturbances by detainees at the Christmas Island camp during the past week. Protesters say Australian authorities are taking too long to process their refugee applications. 

Police reinforcements regained control of the Christmas Island detention center following unrest last week, but refugee advocates say there is still great tension at the Indian Ocean facility, 2,650 kilometers northwest of Perth in Western Australia.

More than 150 detainees escaped and it is unclear how many remain at large. Two inmates were found hiding in bush land early Tuesday.

The center is overcrowded. It holds about 2,500 asylum seekers, many housed in tents and other temporary accommodation.

There has been a steady stream of mostly Iraqi, Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia’s northern waters in recent months. The majority of asylum seekers who arrive by sea are incarcerated while their refugee claims are investigated.

Opposition lawmaker Scott Morrison accuses the Labor government of losing control of Australia's borders and of mishandling the crisis.

"The government, I think, is incredibly embarrassed about the scale of their failure on Christmas Island," said Morrison. "And, it's clear that no further transfers can be made to Christmas Island when it's in such chaos. I mean, at least probably around 300 beds were burnt to the ground during the riots that took place there last week."

Protesters on Christmas Island are angry at the length of time it is taking the authorities to process their refugee applications. Some are reported to have been waiting for 18 months.   

Australian officials say those responsible for the violence could face criminal charges.

Refugee advocates say conditions at the isolated detention camp are so bad it should be shut down.

In response, the government says it will try to reduce overcrowding on Christmas Island. In the past week, 250 unauthorized arrivals picked up by the Australian navy have been taken to the mainland, where their claims for protection will be processed.

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen denies the detention system is breaking down, but concedes there are difficulties.

"I've been very clear that we have had an increase in boat arrivals," said Bowen. "Our detention network has been under pressure for some time. I've acknowledged that, since I became the minister last September, and I've been working to deal with those issues."

In recent days, there have been problems at other Australia detention camps, including a protest at a center near Melbourne. An investigation is underway into the apparent suicide of a 20-year-old Afghan asylum seeker at an immigration facility in Queensland.

Australia grants resettlement visas to about 13,000 refugees each year, under international humanitarian programs. The vast majority of asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat are eventually deemed to be in genuine need of protection, although the issue is politically divisive.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid