Jakarta asylum-seeker ‘brokers’ cash in with spotter’s fees

Stephen Fitzpatrick 7/4/10

The people-smuggling trade through Jakarta has become such big business that spotter’s fees of up to $540 a person are being offered for getting asylum-seekers on to boats headed for Australia. And with a range of smuggling networks operating to ferry asylum-seekers through the archipelago after they have fled Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the “brokers” offering their services are thick on the ground. The flow of refugees making the perilous crossing to Christmas Island from points on Java’s southern coastline is also being accelerated by the fact successful arrivals are immediately telephoning friends and relatives remaining in Jakarta and nearby, urging that they follow “while the gates are still open”, one asylum-seeker told The Australian. There is widespread acknowledgement among the asylum-seeker community that the trip to Australia is now as easy as it was in 2001 – the previous numerical high point in the flow. One Afghan man, former bootmaker Mahdi Naeimi, had his 12-year-old son fetch a map of Indonesia to demonstrate the most practical jumping-off points from Indonesia to Australia. “All the agents are liars,” Mr Naeimi said. “They all lie. But when we talk with them, we can see what percentage they speak truly, and what percentage is false. Then we decide which one to go with.”

See: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/jakarta-asylum-seeker-brokers-cash-in-with-spotters-fees/story-e6frg6nf-1225850681321; Pastor slams overcrowding on Christmas Island; Paige Taylor; 7//4/10; http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/pastor-slams-overcrowding-on-christmas-island/story-e6frg6nf-1225850668224;