THE federal government will reopen a mothballed immigration detention centre in remote north-western Australia to hold Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers whose claims for refugee status have been put on hold.The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said yesterday that the Curtin air force base would be used to hold asylum seekers affected by the government’s decision to suspend processing claims by newly arrived Sri Lankans and Afghans for three and six months respectively.The base is about 40 kilometres south-west of Derby in Western Australia and was closed as a detention centre by the Howard government in 2005 after a riot.But Senator Evans said that it would be upgraded in coming weeks to provide accommodation for up to 300 single males who would be held separately from other asylum seekers.”It makes sense for the government to manage this group of asylum seekers in one secure location,” Senator Evans said.”We’re looking to use Curtin because we want to keep the caseloads separate.”Yesterday the government was also planning to send about 70 asylum seekers from Christmas Island to Darwin and another 60 unaccompanied minors to Port Augusta. But mechanical problems with a plane meant the transfers were postponed.The decision to reopen the Curtin detention centre was criticised by refugee advocacy groups and the opposition.The chief executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, Paul Power, said it was one of the most remote places in Australia and had been notorious in the past for being one of the worst onshore detention centres.”This population of asylum seekers will include torture and trauma survivors and services for them will be nigh on impossible to deliver,” Mr Power said.”There is next to nothing there. Why on earth would you choose to reopen Curtin as an immigration detention centre when there are more credible, humane and effective approaches which could be adopted?”The opposition’s immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said the decision to reopen Curtin showed that the Rudd government’s border protection policies had failed. ”They are going to open a detention facility that the Howard government closed some years ago because it simply wasn’t needed,” Mr Morrison said.Senator Evans said he had instructed his department to ensure that appropriate support services were available.