Hunger forces Christmas Island detainees to turn to crabs

Hunger forces Christmas Island detainees to turn to crabs

Kiwi criminals languishing at the Serco-run Christmas Island Detention Centre say they are so hungry they are considering eating some of the thousands of land crabs that crawl into their compound.  

Christmas Island is overrun with red land crabs, with 50-120 million estimated to live on the small island.

They're everywhere – on the roads, in the bush, and climbing up the walls of the detention centre.

The crabs are a protected species, and detainee Peina Clarke told 3 News guards threaten the detainees with a $500 fine if they touch them.

"We're hungry in here," says Clarke. "So the crabs are looking pretty nice you know." 

The island also has one million giant coconut crabs, which are capable of taking off a finger. But it's the red crab the Kiwis are considering eating because they say they don't get enough food.

Prime Minister John Key has said the detainees on Christmas Island are free to come back to New Zealand and wait for their appeals against their deportation to be heard there.  

So, 3 News asked detainees to do a straw poll – and not one of them wanted to take up the offer. They don't trust authority.

"We all know that's rubbish," Clarke says. "As soon as we leave Australian soil, we're never going to get our visas back."

"It's definitely not a trick. They have altered the policy to allow them to come home," says Mr Key.

The only option now for the detainees is to wait for their appeals, which will ultimately send most, if not all of them back to New Zealand. But at the moment it's their only hope of holding on to their Australian lives.

3 News