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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds In the Indian Ocean area, Australia is a strong point of attraction for people fleeing conflicts and persecutions and trying to reach safer areas, where they can apply for refugee status. In the last decades, this has been among the reasons for different waves of irregular maritime arrivals to head towards Australian shores. Since the 1970s, these were people leaving Vietnam, south of China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, but more recently and in larger numbers, also people fleeing war in countries further away, such as Iran, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds Indonesia has a special role in these journeys as a transit point, where migrants enter in contact with smugglers and intermediaries that help them sail towards Australia.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds Over the years, the Australian government has elaborated various strategies to reduce the impact of irregular maritime arrivals while granting humanitarian protection to people it establishes should receive it.

Skip to 1 minute and 26 seconds With the Pacific Solution, it is decided to excise some areas of its territory to build detention centres, where migrants can make offshore applications for international protection.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds Last but not least, since 2014, successful applicants in Nauru are relocated to Cambodia instead of entering Australia.

Skip to 1 minute and 52 seconds Today, asylum seekers can avoid detention, if they are granted bridging visas that allow them to temporarily reside in Australia under specific conditions– that they respect a code of behaviour and that they do not present health, identity, security, or behavioural issues that represent a risk to local population.

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 seconds If on one hand with these measures the Australian government has heavily reduced the number of people detained in its offshore centres, on the other, it is granting humanitarian protection to a smaller quota of people every year.

Skip to 2 minutes and 32 seconds In 2014, for example, only about 13,000 people have received humanitarian visas, with almost half of them being refugees resettled in Australia by the UNHCR.

Maritime arrivals in Australia

This video introduces the issue of maritime migration to Australia and how, since 2001, the Australian government has responded with its so-called ‘Pacific Solution’.

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This video is from the free online course:

Why Do People Migrate? Facts

European University Institute (EUI)