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Curtin Air Base detention centre to reopen – Herald Sun

[MISC, Sunday, 18 April 2010 10:25 No Comment]

 Asylum seekers on a barge from HMAS Wollongong to go to Christmas Island. Picture: Colin Murty  Source: Herald Sun THE Federal Government will reopen a detention facility in Western Australia to house Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose applications for refugee status have been suspended.

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the facility at Curtain Air Base, 40km southeast of Derby in Western Australia’s far north, would be readied immediately for the transfer of about 60 detained single men.

"As a result of (last week’s decision to suspend) applications for asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, we’ll be opening a new immigration facility at the Curtin Air Base," Senator Evans said.

"Previously, it’s been used for this purpose and initially we’ll be upgrading the facility to accommodate that cohort of persons who have had their asylum claims suspended.

"We need to find an appropriate secure facility to deal with these asylum seekers.

"I expect the centre to be operational following completion of the initial upgrade."

Senator Evans said the first group of asylum seekers, who are subject to a three-month suspension for Sri Lankans and a six-month suspension for Afghans, would be moved from Christmas Island detention centre to Curtin as soon as the upgrades were finished.

Meanwhile, more asylum seekers would be moved off Christmas Island to other detention centres on the mainland to ease overcrowding at the northwest facility.

"We will be moving some single males on a positive pathway to the immigration centre in Darwin," Senator Evans said.

"We’re also moving off the island a group of unaccompanied minors — they’ll be going to the immigration facility at Port Augusta (in South Australia)."

Senator Evans said "a couple of hundred or so" people would be moved off Christmas Island "in the next week or two".

Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers moved to Curtin would remain there until the current suspension of their claims was reviewed, according to Senator Evans, who did not rule out them being granted refugee status later.

Senator Evans said he did not know the final cost of expanding Curtin, but said it would be "considerable".

"We will have to invest considerably in the centre," he said.

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