This joint report, in partnership with Amnesty International, tells the story of the men who have been sent by Australia to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and what has happened to them after they were forcibly removed from the ‘regional processing centre’ on Manus Island one year ago.
There are over 14,000 refugees living in limbo in Indonesia. Many came to Indonesia seeking to reach Australia or be resettled to another safe country. However, since the beginning of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders in 2013, and the reduction of resettlement options, many have found themselves stranded, without basic rights.
- 3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements
As of 21 October 2018:
1,278 people (including 52 children) are still on Nauru or PNG (note: this number is constantly changing with transfers, with the latest estimate by refugee groups being 27 children as of 5 November 2018)
415 people have been resettled in the US, and 188 people have been rejected for US resettlement as of the same date
Nauru: The facts
Around 900 people, including an estimated 95 children, are still living in limbo on Nauru after having been sent there by Australia under its regime of offshore processing. All of them have been there for over four years.
Six years after the Australian government began sending people seeking asylum to Nauru, there are still around 900 people left on the island, including an estimated 109 children.1 All of them will have been there for over four years. Almost 200 people lived in a processing centre, including 14 children,2 until they were cleared out along with tents and temporary accommodation they were living in for the Pacific Islands Forum.3 In 2013, Amnesty International reported that Australia’s policy of offshore processing was breaking people. Six years on, people are broken.
Index: ASA 05/8971/2018
30 August 2018
JOINT OPEN LETTER TO THE PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM LEADERS AND OBSERVERS IN THE CONTEXT OF AUSTRALIA’S ABUSIVE OFFSHORE REFUGEE PROCESSING POLICY
Canberra, Australia: The Refugee Council of Australia has today joined a renewed campaign to pressure Australia’s political leaders to bring the 119 children currently trapped on Nauru, to Australia.
The #KidsOffNauru Campaign, driven by Australia’s prominent humanitarian and refugee sector organisations, is calling for the urgent evacuation of children off the island and brought to Australia.
Today marks five years since the Australian government started sending everyone coming by boat to seek asylum to languish in offshore detention centres in the Pacific, never to be resettled in Australia. In those five years, 12 people have died, families have been torn apart, and over 3,000 children and adults have endured enormous mental and physical harm. Yet the Australian government celebrates the policy as a ‘success’, and other parts of the world are now looking to the Australian way as a potential ‘solution’.
This brief summarises the many changes to Australia’s refugee and asylum policies in recent years. These changes have largely been a political response to an increase in the number of people seeking asylum by boat (51,637 arrivals in the past five years) and in deaths at sea (at least 862 deaths over the same period). Both of Australia’s major political parties have responded by blocking access to protection in Australia and penalising those coming by boat.
Refugee and Humanitarian Program
Over the past 25 years, people have been supported while seeking asylum through a basic living allowance and limited casework. These support programs were designed so that people can more effectively resolve their claims for protection. In the past few years, and especially since August 2017, the Australian Government has been making it harder for people to access these support programs.
For years, Australia has been punishing people who need our protection. We have been turning back the boats which were carrying them to safety, and shipping and warehousing them in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. If they make it to mainland Australia, we have been detaining them indefinitely and, once they are released, leaving them to struggle in the community without support.
In the next few months of 2018, the Australian Department of Home Affairs plans to drastically cut support to people seeking asylum. This is likely to leave more than 7,500 people hungry and homeless, most of them living in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne.
In 2017, a wide range of actors from across the Australian refugee sector and movement worked together to articulate a platform for reform of Australian refugee policy in 2018 and beyond. The contributors included: people from refugee backgrounds, NGOs, community groups, academics and grassroots organisations. As such, the views expressed here are informed by a broad cross section of expertise from across Australia. A list of associated organisations and groups is listed below.
The 2018-19 Federal Budget continues the Australian Government’s focus on border control at the expense of those seeking protection, with the only significant new measure affecting refugees being another $62 million for Operation Sovereign Borders.
“At a time of urgent need for refugees here and overseas, this Budget does nothing to address their needs and keeps spending instead on punishing them for needing our protection,” Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power said.
The 2018-19 Humanitarian Program will increase in 2018-19 to 18,750 places, although it is unclear whether there will continue to be a numerical target in future.
Operation Sovereign Borders will continue with an extra $62.2 million, and another $294 million for border security at airports, and $6.9 million for two years to continue operation of the Airline Liaison Program to detect and prevent unauthorised entry to Australia.
There are thousands of people seeking asylum living in the Australian community. Some of these people have come to Australia by plane, and sought asylum afterwards. Some of them have come to Australia by boat. The way they came affects whether they are detained, the conditions of their visas, and how their claim for protection is determined.
It also affects the way statistics are reported. There are very few current statistics on people who came by plane. There are more detailed statistics on people who came by boat, but its publication has varied over time.
An unknown number of Congolese refugees in Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda have been killed, wounded, detained or are missing in fresh attacks by Rwandan military and police.
In late April, the Rwandan government increased its military and police presence around the camp in response to protests by refugees about deteriorating conditions in the camp, which in February turned violent.
New Migration Regulations took effect on 18 November that could have a very significant impact on refugees, especially those on temporary protection visas. Unless these Regulations are disallowed by the Senate on 27 November, the Regulations will apply to a broad range of temporary visas, including temporary protection and bridging visas.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton must assure the safety of all those men on Manus Island says the Refugee Council of Australia.
The Australian Federal Police have confirmed they are active on Manus Island as PNG authorities moved in to the centre and are reported to have smashed up the belongings of refugees and taken their valuables, including mobile phones.
Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia said, “Our worst fears about a possible escalation of violence appear to be coming true today.
Refugee Council of Australia and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Joint release
As the humanitarian crisis on Manus Island escalates, Australians and the broader global community are coming to the aid of the innocent men trapped inside the centre.
Last week as Immigration Minister Peter Dutton ordered food, clean water, electricity and medicines be cut off from those inside the Australian funded and staffed Manus centre, a 24 year old man from Iran, Amir Taghinia, detained there for over 4 years, was flown out to safety to Canada.