Darwin plan for illegal arrivals on boats
Siobhain Ryan; 1/10/09
More than 16 boatpeople a day sought refuge in Australia last month in the biggest surge in arrivals since the start of the decade, forcing Canberra to consider transfers from Christmas Island to Darwin to accommodate the rush. About 500 asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, were diverted to Christmas Island for immigration processing in September – more than the total number of arrivals in Australian waters recorded over the previous seven years combined. The influx of boat people has pushed the 1200-bed detention camp on the remote Indian Ocean island to about 75 per cent occupancy and will extend it beyond capacity within three weeks if the flow continues unabated. Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday acknowledged there were “contingency plans” in place to free up space on Christmas Island if the need arose.