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Life on the land in Australia

MORE BOAT PEOPLE ARRIVE AT CHRISTMAS ISLAND DESPITE THE MALAYSIA SWAP DEAL

MORE BOAT PEOPLE STILL COMING EVEN AFTER THE MALASIA SWAP DEAL WITH AUSTRALIA

A BOAT carrying around 62 asylum seekers, including at least two children and several women, reached Christmas Island yesterday, the fourth vessel to have arrived since the Malaysia plan was signed by the federal government.

The small but very crowded boat was escorted by the Navy into Flying Fish Cove at 2pm, bringing the total number of asylum seekers set to be sent to Malaysia to 269.

Interviews with the 102 asylum seekers who were on the third boat, which arrived on Thursday, have revealed a third of the passengers were unaccompanied minors, bringing the total of lone teenagers facing deportation to Malaysia to at least 44, not including the latest boat.

”A lot of them were quite young, 16 or 17,” a source inside the immigration detention centre said.

Immigration officers questioned passengers from the third boat until 3am on Friday, subjecting those claiming to be under 18 to age determination interviews.

”There was a lot of crissed-crossed examination to try to make them admit they were not minors,” said the source.

The federal government is being scrutinised by the High Court over its plan to return 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia, with no blanket exemptions. The return of unaccompanied teenagers, in particular, will be examined. An injunction prevents any transfers until a full bench hearing on August 22.

There were four family groups on the third boat, who ”reacted very peacefully” when they reached the Phosphate Hill detention centre and were told the matter was in court.

A week earlier, families, teens and a seven-year-old child who arrived on the first boat began a hunger strike when informed they would be returned to Malaysia. They are now eating again. ”I think they have a small amount of hope they will be kept here,” the source said.

The third boat included 31 unaccompanied minors, 60 single adult males, and five males, four women, two boys and a girl in family groups.

Following agreement by the Papua New Guinea government to reopen a refugee processing centre, the Gillard government quickly regeared its message to people smugglers yesterday.

”If you are thinking of making a boat journey to Australia … it’s very clear to you that you may be sent to Malaysia or Papua New Guinea, but you are not going to be processed in Australia,” said the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen.

But Mr Bowen said it would take ”several weeks” to reopen Manus Island as a centre because it needs to be upgraded. He also confirmed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would not endorse a Papua New Guinea solution.

? One of the people smugglers who allegedly organised the infamous 2001 SIEV X voyage in which 350 asylum seekers died is believed to have been tracked down in New Zealand and could soon face charges in Australia. Iraq-born Maythem Kamil Radhi was arrested in New Zealand late last month and is now fighting extradition to Australia, where he could be jailed for up to 20 years if found guilty of people smuggling.

August 13th, 2011
Topic: BOATS MARINE, NATIONAL INTEREST, PEOPLE Tags: , ,

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