It looks like Australia’s policy of seeking Indonesian co-operation in stopping illegals is paying off. The illegals arrive in Indonesia on regular airline flights from Pakistan and then pay people smugglers thousands of dollars to take them via small boats to Australia. So they are obviously far from destitute and already had refuge in Pakistan. So they are clearly economic migrants, not refugees. Afghans are primitive Muslims who customarily settle disputes with violence and respect no law other than the law of the tribe so are very undesirable as migrants

Hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers detained in Indonesia as they sought to reach Australia have been sent home in recent months after allegedly being offered a financial inducement. The Age newspaper says the asylum seekers desperate to flee their war-torn homeland had also allegedly been told they had next to no chance of being resettled in another country.

Indonesia’s director for immigration law enforcement, Muchdor, told the newspaper 376 asylum seekers – almost all of them Afghans – had been repatriated recently, flown to Dubai and then Kabul under a program managed by the Jakarta office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The Age claims a surge in repatriations has prompted criticism from refugee advocates that the policy is endangering lives, and represents a recasting of the Howard government’s abandoned Pacific Solution with a similarly inhumane “South-East Asian solution”.

It comes as Indonesian authorities said they had detained 56 Afghans off the eastern island of Lombok who were attempting to travel by wooden boat to Australia. Three Indonesian boat crew were also arrested.

Australia provides funding for the IOM in Indonesia, including its repatriation programs. It also funds the detention centres that hold asylum seekers in Indonesia.

The Age reports that asylum seekers say they are placed under extreme pressure and feel they have no choice but to take up the offer to go back to Afghanistan, currently in the grip of its worst violence since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. “The IOM officials come around and they tell us ‘don’t bother, nothing is going to happen for you’,” said one asylum seeker, who asked The Age not to be named. He said the IOM was offering individuals about $2000 in cash payments to return. It is understood that families get more.

Australia allocated $8 million for the IOM in this year’s budget. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans rejected the notion that the sharp increase in repatriations had been driven from Canberra.