October 15, 2012
As the populations of Australia’s immigration detentions centres swell, authorities have reported several cases of self-harm in processing centres on Christmas Island, and on Nauru.
Australia’s Immigration Department has confirmed 525 people on six boats were picked up and transported to Christmas Island over the weekend, increasing the number of asylum seekers there to 1,946.
And there could be more on the way.
In Afghanistan, ethnic Hazaras have told the ABC that tougher immigration laws will not deter them from paying people smugglers to get to Australia.
Zubaida Tahiri lives in Kabul and says many of her friends have made the trip to Australia.
“As we have heard, those who are there, they are happy from their life,” Ms Tahiri says.
“That’s why we would prefer Australia.”
Hazaras are persecuted in Afghanistan and many have paid thousands of dollars to come to Australia by boat.
They say it is worth spending the money and the time on Nauru for a chance to escape poverty and violence.
The ABC has been told that rates for people smugglers range from $US10,000 to more than $US20,000.
Feroza Qasem, a friend of Ms Tahiri’s, says she knows the rules have become tougher for asylum seekers heading to Australia but thinks it is worth taking the risk.
“We want to go to Australia because our life is danger after 2014, we can’t live,” Ms Qasem says.
“Maybe Taliban [will] come back.”
Zaheer Ali, a Hazara Refugee Advocate in Kabul, says people are simply looking for a better quality of life.
“I don’t think any sort of action points by the Afghan government or any sort of action points by the Australian Government could stop asylum seekers going to Australia.”