The decision Wednesday by Australia’s highest court to void the so-called “Malaysia Solution,” in which Australia would swap refugees with Malaysia, leaves both countries in a continuing quandary. Under the policy, announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in May, Australia would have accepted 4,000 certified refugees from Malaysia, most of them Christian or Buddhist Burmese, in exchange for 800 asylum seekers who were to be sent to Malaysia. The 4,000 that Australia wished to trade, including unaccompanied children, are currently held on Christmas Island, 2,750 km from Darwin. They are believed to be mostly Muslims. The scheme was an attempt to stem a continuing influx into Australia from poverty-stricken or war-torn countries, particularly Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

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