Asylum seekers detention centers in Australia hit capacity

13:46, September 13, 2010      

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Australia's detention centers are full, and the first job of new Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, will be to find up to 2,000 more beds on the mainland, local media reported on Monday.

Official Immigration Department figures showed there were 4,903 people crowded into Australia's detention and residential centers, which now include two hotels in Darwin and one in Brisbane.

Of those, 4,527 are asylum seekers or the crews from the boats that brought them. The remainder are visa over-stayers or criminals awaiting deportation.

According to the department, the capacity of all Australia's detention centers is 3,567, plus the newly opened site at the remote Western Australia mining town of Lenora, which is currently holding 195 people.

"We are managing within existing facilities and have flexibility to reconfigure, but it is tight," an Immigration Department spokesman told ABC News on Monday.

Later on Monday, Bowen has flagged the establishment of an offshore processing centre for refugees and a more "mature" debate on asylum-seekers. The issues are among his key priorities as the government's Immigration Minister.

Vowing to work with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to establish the offshore processing centre, Bowen acknowledged asylum-seekers had been a thorny issue for Labor in key political battlegrounds.

Source: Xinhua


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