Australian refugee camp hit by violence

July 22, 2011 at 1:33 PM
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EASTER ISLAND, Australia, July 22 (UPI) -- Refugees set fires during three nights of violence at a camp on Australia's Christmas Island this week, officials said.

The latest round of demonstrations came as officials prepared to sign a deal to send hundreds of asylum-seekers in Australia to Malaysia.

The Australian, quoting sources, reported Friday that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen would fly to Malaysia to sign an agreement to accept 4,000 "certified" refugees in return for 800 "unprocessed" asylum-seekers who were picked up off Australia's coast.

Migrants held on the island complained of long delays and overcrowding as they waited for the completion of paperwork.

The United Nations has criticized Australia for the delays.

In the latest round of unrest on Christmas Island, refugees set fires and some buried themselves in shallow graves to indicate their plight, reports said.

Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison said the government, by its inaction, has imposed a new crisis on the immigration system.

"These ... people, including children, will now be detained indefinitely on Christmas Island, as the government has failed to secure a third country to process them as promised," Morrison said in a report in The Australian. He said he found the refugee agency's "silence on these issues to be quite mystifying."

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