Australia vows to ‘restore order’ on Christmas Island | Daily News

Australia vows to ‘restore order’ on Christmas Island

AUSTRALIA: Unrest broke out at an Australian island immigration detention centre, authorities and NGOs said Wednesday following reports the Christmas Island facility had been set alight by frustrated detainees.

The Australian Border Force said an operation was underway “to restore order after a disturbance” at the North West Point Immigration Detention Centre on the Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.

“A small number of detainees caused some damage to the facility overnight and continue to be non-compliant,” the government agency said in a statement, adding there were no reports of any injuries.

Christmas Island, a tropical isle off Australia's northwest, gained notoriety as a venue where asylum seekers who attempted to reach the country by boat were detained.

The Refugee Council of Australia said the facility held 220 detainees as at October 2020.

Advocacy group Refugee Action Coalition said reports from inside the centre suggested two compounds had been set ablaze overnight Tuesday into Wednesday as tensions boiled over.

“While the extent of the damage is not known, the glare from the fires and the extent of the smoke in the air indicates the fires are substantial,” the group said.

National Justice Project principal solicitor George Newhouse said detainees were increasingly frustrated with conditions after being confined to their rooms for up to 22 hours a day and unable to contact their families due to a poor mobile phone signal.

- AFP