Asylum-Seekers Could Be Forced To Sleep In Tents

Asylum-seekers could be forced to sleep in tents

The Australian, December 2, 2009

The Federal Government's planned expansion of its Christmas Island detention facility may see asylum seekers sleeping in tents.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship yesterday said the number of beds in the centre would be increased from 1088 to about 1600 by the middle of this month.

Labor confirmed in October it would spend $40 million upgrading the detention facility to sleep up to 2200.

A departmental spokesman said accommodation capacity on the island had recently been increased to almost 1400, after existing infrastructure was 'reconfigured'.

'Additional demountables have now been transported to the island to further expand its capacity by up to 200 beds – these should be in place by mid-December,' he said.

An additional compound using demountable buildings is also planned to up the centre's capacity by another 400 beds come March.

When combined with demountable accommodation in the island's the Phosphate Hill detention facility, also ready early next year, the island will be able to handle about 2200 asylum seekers.

However, until these new facilities are built, the department said 'a small number of tents' would be set up on the island for accommodation, recreation or educational activities.