Australia: Boat people trade ‘out of control’
The Australian government finally announced today that they were placing a halt on refugees from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
PEOPLE smuggling is ”totally out of control” in Indonesia, with thousands of asylum seekers now preparing to come to Australia, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The commissioner’s senior representative in Indonesia, Manuel Jordao, told The Age that a ”huge percentage” of almost 4000 asylum seekers registered there would try to reach Australia by boat rather than wait for resettlement though official channels.
Along with those registered with the UN, there are believed to be thousands more Afghans, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans who bypass the organisation as they wait for people smugglers to take them to Australia.
”It’s a big business out there,” Mr Jordao said. ”It’s totally out of control and what we are proposing is that the states in the region are being outmanoeuvred by the trafficking syndicates.”
The comments come as asylum seekers report that the price of a passage to Australia has halved as more syndicates emerge to take advantage of an influx of asylum seekers.
Mr Jordao said governments across the region had to ”get their act together” and come up with solutions. ”The problem is growing and it won’t go away.”
In just over three months this year, 1808 irregular immigrants and 96 crew have made it to Australia by boat. If that rate continues, 2010 will be the biggest year yet for unauthorised arrivals by boat, easily exceeding the 5000 or so who arrived in 2001.
In 2009 – the first full year under the Rudd government’s new immigration policies – 2706 asylum seekers and 115 crew made it to Australia, This was a sharp increase on the 127 asylum seekers and 15 crew who arrived by boat in 2008.
Asked whether the Rudd government’s change in immigration policies was responsible for the influx, Mr Jordao said it wasn’t his place to comment.
”You can now pay $US4000 ($A4300), while before it was between $US8000 and $US10,000,” said one asylum seeker who has been in Indonesia for two years and asked not to be identified.
The Indonesian syndicates were cheaper because ”they know who to bribe and at what price”. They also tend to run the boats from out of areas near Jakarta, reducing their costs.