MELBOURNE, Australia -- It's mid-week on a chilly Melbourne morning, and from halfway across the world in London, a call comes in to the Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC). On the other end of the line is a nervous Afghan woman. Pamela Curr, campaign coordinator at the ASRC picks up the message as she arrives for work: Another boat has been seized off Ashmore Reef and diverted to Christmas Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There, the 70-odd Afghans on board will have their claims for asylum processed.
Among them is the cousin of the caller from London, who was desperately seeking a phone number for the Australian authorities on Christmas Island, so that she could check on her relative's welfare.
Curr obliges but warns her that the Australians don't always answer. "They're under a lot of pressure," she later confided to World Politics Review.