Upon reaching Indonesia, thousands of migrants fleeing Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar must decide on their fate: whether to apply for refugee status or board a crowded boat to Australia. It is quite evident what people chose.
Over the last few years, since Australia decided to fund refugee camps on its soil, more than 100 boats carrying 7,000 asylum-seekers have crossed the rough seas from Java to Christmas Island. Rising death tolls that came with the influx of asylum-seekers have prompted Canberra to review its legislation on asylum. The Labor Party-led government passed a new legislation to deport asylum-seekers to third countries, such as Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Despite the new policy, several boats have attempted to reach Australia. Just last week, Australia launched a massive search and rescue operation for a boat believed to be carrying 140 asylum-seekers after it went missing. According to reports, over 50 people were rescued from the water.
According to Asahi Shimbun, applying for refugee status takes several years and life in UN-funded detention camps are solitary compared to assistance given by Australia once asylum-seekers are assessed. Australia is a party to the Refugee Convention and is obligated to provide assistance.