Mar 6, 2014

The Indian solution: how a subcontinent strategy would save lives — and money

The Manus Island and Nauru offshore detention centres are proving to be not feasible. But there is an unlikely solution: a temporary safe haven processing facility in India, writes former detention centre worker and academic Richard Curzon.

The recent violence at the Manus Island detention centre and the numerous asylum seekers who have drowned at sea while trying to make the perilous voyage to Australia make it clear that Australia’s asylum seeker policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru is not working. But perhaps there is another solution: a safe haven processing facility in India.

Australia and India share a bilateral relationship with a particular focus on security and strategic issues. There is co-operation in science, technology, international education and research across India and the region, which includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

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7 thoughts on “The Indian solution: how a subcontinent strategy would save lives — and money

  1. Moving to Paraguay

    It’s great to have another alternative on the table. You’ve pointed out many good reasons to look to India. But I recall that the Malaysian solution failed because they hadn’t signed on to the UN Refugee Convention. So would this lessen the chance of an Indian solution as well? Also would the India processing centre be quickly flooded by economic migrants? Would there need to be some initial triage to deal with increased demand due to proximity?

  2. paddy

    India? FFS! I guess we should look at anywhere but NIMBY to dump a few thousand desperate refugees eh?
    Why the heck would a safe haven built in India cost less than one on Manus or Nauru?

  3. maxcelcat

    This is a bloody good idea. Can’t see it happening, though. Both sides of federal politics are so invested in the current “solution” that a sensible plan that’d save lives and money will never get off the ground…

  4. Dawson Colin

    What happens when the facility reaches its capacity?

  5. Hill Rosemary

    Process the asylum seekers in Australia!

  6. AR

    Imagine if we spent the money wasted being evil on UNHCR camps or – here’s a weird idea, in OZ!

  7. R. Ambrose Raven

    Since boat refugees have similar social and economic difficulties as the peoples of the littoral states (and, incidentally, of marginalised Aborigines), improving the economic and social situation of both at comparatively little cost would be cheaper and far better than our haters’ institutionalising of violence, ignorance and denial. While I’d suggest that we have the proposed centre on a littoral state rather than India, the principle put forward by the author is far superior to the evil, viciousness and hate of the haters.

    Since the Robben (sorry, Manus) Island refugees won’t be coming to Australia, we can be less afraid of training and educating and employing them in some cottage industry. Tonga, for instance, recently opened its first call centre. A President of Nauru at the time of the Pacific Solution said, ‘We would welcome [refugees] if they could assist in our development here.”

    Industry support (which the haters and transnational reps oppose for Australian industries) would include planning, financing, decent wages, and a quota system for e.g. clothing production.

    Opportunities exist in, for instance, aquaculture. Seaweed cultivation is cost-effective and uses low technology, while dried seaweed can be preserved for up to six months. Vanilla is a promising crop, being suitable for cultivation by smallholders and having a ready world market. Papaya could become a major industry.

    Yet, not surprisingly, there is little evidence-based (i.e. properly researched) knowledge of production, harvest and post-harvest issues.

    Why? Because just like here, it is ideologically unacceptable for governments to act as a development stimulator; if the Profit-seekers are not doing it, It Must Not Be Done. Is that at great cost to us? Yes. Is that at great cost to littoral islanders? Yes. So let’s change!

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