Following Australia's stringent crackdown, people smugglers from Indonesia may use shipping containers to transport asylum seekers, in place of traditional fishing boats. Customers are also being told that New Zealand is a safer destination than Australia.
A report published by Fairfax Media, based on secret audio recording said smugglers are telling customers that New Zealand is a safer option, although job opportunities are less.
Based on conversations between people smugglers and customers; the report reveals Australia's strategy to transport asylum seeking boat people to Christmas Islands and PNG is paying off. Although dozens of people smugglers continue to remain active in Indonesia, they are desperately looking out for new customers.
The report draws attention to the fact that similar cases of asylum seekers being transported in shipping containers has been seen in Europe. Several people die enroute due to suffocation and dehydration.
With Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, set to visit Indonesia this week, the report says people smugglers continue to sell the option of transportation by wooden fishing boats.
The demand, however, has fallen dramatically and so has the price. Faced with the challenge of falling demand, people smugglers are now offering the option on transportation by container ships to avoid the Australian naval authorities.
Smugglers call this the "cruise ship" option with ships leaving from ports in Bali, Kendari in Sulawesi or West Papua.
Reassuring potential asylum seekers, people smugglers are telling them that they only need to spend nine hours inside the container. Passengers are told that once at sea, they will be allowed to roam the deck, the report says.
"Many people in Cisarua have already given $3000 to the smuggler Farhan, plus $5000 to [a trusted money-keeper], and in one or three weeks I think this ship will go," said an asylum seeker source quoted in the report
People smugglers are also giving asylum seekers the option of travelling to New Zealand, which they say is a safer and better option. Customers are being told that immigration law in New Zealand, is easy compared to Australia.
"New Zealand is very clean ... Everything is better than Australia, the only problem is just unemployment ... New Zealand is a golden opportunity. You can take your mother, your brother, all of your family after proving they are in danger too," one people smuggler Ali is quoted in the report as saying.
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