Facing closure of refugee camp, Christmas Island grasps for economic future

By Byron Kaye SYDNEY (Reuters) – If the remote Australian outpost of Christmas Island had its way, it would have reopened a local casino that once raked in billions of dollars instead of renting hotel rooms at an ageing resort to refugee camp workers. The tiny island in the Indian Ocean is often the first port of call on Australian territory for asylum seekers en route from South Asia and the Middle East. In 2001, it made international headlines when Australia in a controversial move refused to let a Norwegian freighter disembark 438 asylum seekers rescued from a 20-metre (66-foot) fishing boat.

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