Asia-Pacific

How Australia deals with 'boat people'

An overview of the number of asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by boat in 2010 and the system to process their applications for refugee status. (Figures as of 7 November 2010).

Under current Australian government policy, most of those who arrive by boat without valid documents are taken into immigration detention on Christmas Island while their reasons for being in Australia are verified.

This process can take 90 days or more. Almost all detainees are asylum seekers - mostly from Afghanistan or Sri Lanka.

Facilities on Christmas Island include a high security detention centre used for adult males, and a low security area to house families and unaccompanied minors.

On the mainland, there is Immigration Residential Housing (IRH), which is designed to allow people to live in family-style accommodation while being detained.

There is also Immigration Transit Accommodation (ITA), which provides hostel-style accommodation for those deemed to be "a low security risk".

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