Saturday January 22, 2011 6:30pm WST
For Immediate Release
"Informants have told us this afternoon that a serious crisis for the island's fuel and food supply is imminent, with technical damage to the island's supply ship which has combined with problematic aircraft landing and take-off conditions due to weather conditions," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said tonight.
"Our sources have told us that the island's supply ship has been drifting for weeks now and many of the planes that have come up have been unable to land and have had to go back to Perth. There is hope that an aircraft landing today (Saturday) will be successful as food is running short. The ship supplies the jet fuel to the island - and that is running low, Plans have been developed to fly in jet fuel with assistance of the military so the planes can run," spokesman Jack H Smit said.
(We also received a message from Zentner, the company in charge of the supply ship, detailing the problems on board of the vessel - see below)
"The situation on Christmas Island once again shows the precarious vulnerability of offshore detention. While the detention centre 'officially' has a capacity of 1,800 asylum seekers, latest figures including the most recent boat arrivals show that 3,000 detainees are currently in detention, thousands of kilometers away from the nearest capital city in a tropical cyclonic zone. With the current fuel and fly-in, fly-out crisis, a medical emergency may quickly turn into a life-or-death crisis."
"While the Gillard government is once again politically squeezed about the extraordinary costs of the flood crisis in Queensland and Victoria, we quietly sink gross and obscene amounts of money into the jailing of people who arrived to seek protection from persecution in their homelands, keeping them out of sight and out of mind in what now may well amount to a volatile and dangerous place. We can process all asylum seekers for less than a quarter of the cost on the mainland, while at the same time significantly reducing the cost of any medical emergencies, if these would occur."
"The situation where we need to spent obscene amounts of money and resources, using the military and a raft of private companies on Christmas Island to keep the place going, has always been untenable. Now that the budget is coming under extreme pressures, we should become sensible and engage in sensible accounts management. No asylum seeker needs to be on Christmas Island beyond initial health and identity checks - normally not longer than a week."
"We should use this crisis to evacuate the island's asylum seekers and continue their processing on the mainland," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Cocos and Christmas Island Shippers
Weather and sea conditions at Christmas Island are still too rough to permit the vessel to commence cargo operations.
Conditions are expected to remain the same into next week.
We have also this morning received notification from the ship that they are having mechanical problems.
The "vibration damper" which dampens engine vibrations has broken down. As a result they can not operate the main engine for any extended time.
A new damper is being sourced in Germany and will be flown out on Monday.
We then have to wait on suitable flights to XI, earliest we can get there is Thursday, 27th.
It will only take half a day to carry out the repairs.
We can then, dependant on weather/swell, call into the island.
We have been advised that we can not berth with out a fully functioning main engine. (standard port requirement)
There is not problem with engine, only the damper, which is easily replaced.
It is our intention after discharging all containers at Xmas Island, to load all empty containers from the island.
We will then proceed direct to Fremantle to load containers for PM1101.
We will not be sailing to Singapore, as this will add extra time and delays to the next voyage.
As information becomes available we will pass it on.
Please be assured we are doing every thing to ensure speedy repairs and minimal delay to our schedule.
Zentner Group of Companies