The Pacific solution: Paradise or prison?


This week, thousands of Americans were given a very personal look into controversial Australian detention centers that have kept hundreds of refuges from gaining asylum.

Hailed by the Australian government as the “Pacific Solution,” the detention centers opened in 2001. Located in Naru and Manus Island in Papa New Guinea, they were created as a response to the increasing number of people seeking asylum in Australia by crossing international waters.

From the beginning, controversy has surrounded the extremely isolated centers. While it is difficult for those held there to speak out, reports of beatings by officers, rape and violence between refuges continue to surface.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Australian citizens have all condemned the Australian policy due to what can best be called the camp conditions.

According to BuzzFeed News, in 2014 a report from the Australian Senate committee gathered overwhelming accounts of the horrible conditions including dead flies in the food, overflowing toilets, abuse by guards, and detainees suffering heatstroke while waiting for food.

With the influx of refugees becoming a powerful international issue, it’s surprising that both the American news media and public have devoted such little attention to the Australian policy. Little recent information can be found about the detention centers, especially not from major U.S. news outlets.

This comes as both especially surprising and disappointing since, as of Feb. 6, the company operate the centers, Broadspectrum, extended its contract for another year. With another five-year lease, this does not come as a hopeful development to those against the policy.

As debates about what the solution is for handling immigrants and fears of terrorism rise internationally, the detention centers show no signs of closing soon. Hopefully, the American public will identify with the cause before the situation worsens.