Refugees: off-shore nightmare for families to start this week

Disturbing information is coming from Christmas Island. Staff are reporting that women and children will be among those flown to Manus Island next week at a rate of 120 per week. The PNG transfers are to commence using AFP officers with Serco are then going to take over that role. Serco have ‘recruited from the streets’ and are putting these new workers thru some sort of training to undertake the PNG transfers.

So far there is no confirmation as to where they will be housed because the detention centre used in the past is constructed from crumbling asbestos. Both Dengue Fever and Malaria are endemic to Manus Island and present a grave threat to people with no immunity or experience of these tropical diseases.

Staff report that the Christmas Island compounds are “like powder kegs” and operations are being managed with a large contingent of Serco, TRG and AFP using intimidation tactics by threatening anyone who complains with transfer to Nauru.

At the same time there is concern at a direction given by DIAC at North West Point for all compounds to be opened at the same time for the people to queue simultaneously for the the canteen. This sets up a line of hundreds of people queuing to get basic supplies. Some people have queued for 4 days in a row without getting to the counter before they close the window. This creates friction and frustration between asylum seekers. Some workers have suggested that this is a deliberate ploy to create trouble for political purposes as the usual practice is to open the compounds one by one to manage the distribution in an orderly and safe way.

Reports state that there are more than the DIAC count of 2008 people on Christmas Island. The DIAC official count puts every compound over contingency capacity. At this count people are placed in areas not intended for accommodation. The fears generated by the prospect of Nauru PNG transfers coupled with no information and no processing and overcrowding is a recipe for disaster on Christmas Island now. Adding to these concerns are the large number of unaccompanied minors. these teenagers are currently the responsibility of the Minister who is their Guardian under Australian Law but they will have no protection when they are dumped off-shore. The families and teenagers are living in the North West Point detention Centre which the Labor Government swore would never happen under their watch.

Immigration detention facility Regular operational capacity
Contingency capacity
Christmas Island
Christmas Island IDC 304 850
Lilac APOD 150 150
Aqua APOD 200 380
Construction Camp APOD 200 310
Phosphate Hill APOD 96 318

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