Monthly Archives: November 2013

Asylum seeker family from Myanmar allowed to stay in Australia temporarily

November 30, 2013

Latifa, a Myanmar asylum seeker, fears for her family if sent back to the Nauru detention facility.

Latifa, a Myanmar asylum seeker, fears for her family if sent back to the Nauru detention facility.

The Federal Court has given a temporary reprieve to an asylum seeker family who wants to remain in Brisbane to access medical treatment for their sick newborn son.

The Myanmar family was transferred from detention on Nauru to transit accommodation in Brisbane before their baby’s birth.

Their lawyers argued that they should be allowed to stay because the infant was born in Australia and they would fear for his health if they were to be returned to the offshore camp.

The infant, named Faris, has suffered respiratory and feeding problems since his birth in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.

This afternoon, the court ruled the Commonwealth must give the family two days’ notice before any further attempt to return them to Nauru.

“The Government has committed that before removing the family to Nauru they will get a fair hearing and two days notice,” said their lawyer Murray Watts.

“This is a good outcome for this family and having secured that we now really need to reflect as a country the practice of detaining children off shore at all.”

The ruling comes just days after the UN’s refugee agency warned that Australia’s approach to dealing with asylum seekers may be in breach of international law.

The UNHCR released two reports on the Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, raising serious concerns about the living conditions.

A spokeswoman for Maurice Blackburn lawyers says the Commonwealth has now come to the table and discussions are underway to see if the family can remain in Australia.

The spokeswoman says that is something lawyers will not be compromising on.

Lawyers have previously said that a ruling in the refugee family’s favour could set a legal precedent in terms of the consideration of health information and the rights of a newborn to remain in Australia.



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Filed under Courts and Legal Challenges

Christmas Island residents say group of asylum seekers arrive

November 28, 2013

Residents on Christmas Island say a group of asylum seekers has arrived this morning.

It is believed a group of eight men, one woman and two children were dropped off at the Island’s jetty by the Ocean Protector.

The group are understood to be of Rohingya origins.

The Federal Government no longer confirms individual boat arrivals, instead providing weekly briefings.


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Filed under Boat Intercepted

Rural Reporter: Afghans in the shearing sheds

November 28, 2013

Image Source: Google

Two former Afghan refugees are being trained to work in shearing sheds in South Australia.

Listen to Audio here

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Filed under Life after detention, Talented Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers Children found in distress UN denounces inhumanity of island centres

November 27, 2013

Refugees at the Nauru detention centre.Detention limbo: A UN report has found at the time of the agency visit, only 160 of the 1093 asylum seekers held on Manus Island had lodged asylum claims. Photo: Angela Wylie

Offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island are more focused on sending asylum seekers home than promoting “safe, fair and humane conditions”, a scathing United Nations report has found.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited the centres in October, and on Tuesday issued reports finding that Australia’s agreements with its island neighbours had left hundreds in limbo.

The findings paint an especially dire picture for children and survivors of torture.

Nauru accommodation blocks were destroyed and are now unusable.Concerning conditions: The July 19 riots in Nauru left many of the buildings dilapidated and unusable. Photo: Supplied

Nauru inspectors met some of the 95 child detainees, who drew pictures highlighting their distress.


The inspectors found children were living in hot, humid, cramped conditions with little privacy, were not going to school and their parents held deep concerns for their mental health. At the time of the UN visit, there were 801 asylum seekers on Nauru and 1091 asylum seekers on Manus Island, including two unaccompanied children.

The UN found the morale of asylum seekers was extremely low because of delays in processing and uncertainty about their futures.

Just one asylum seeker on Nauru has had their refugee protection claim processed in 14 months, the inspectors found, while none of the asylum seekers on Manus Island had been processed in the 12 months since Australia and Papua New Guinea struck the deal to send asylum seekers bound for Australia to Papua New Guinea.

The agency raised particular concern about the inability of Papua New Guinea’s officials to process asylum seekers’ claims for protection. It painted a picture of confusion and incompetence at the Papua New Guinean centre; for example, there were no clear laws or regulatory guidelines in place for the Papua New Guinean Foreign Affairs Minister or other officials to follow when judging asylum seekers’ claims.

At the time of the agency’s visit, the Papua New Guinean government – which is in charge of processing asylum claims for those Australia sends – had recruited just five officers to make refugee status determinations. Only two or three were on duty at any time, the agency reported, and it will take at least six months before they are able to make decisions “with any degree of sufficiency”.

Of the 1093 asylum seekers held at Manus Island when the UNHCR visited on October 28, only 160 had been able to lodge asylum claims.

Instead, a “return-oriented environment” had developed at both island centres, with no local legal support for asylum seekers.

The UNHCR was concerned that asylum seekers – including some who were “bona fide refugees” – would consider returning because of the uncertainty around processing, lengthy delays in processing and the prospect of settling in Papua New Guinea.

The UNHCR’s director of international protection, Volker Turk, said: “These reports must be seen in the context of what UNHCR has observed to be a sharp deterioration, during the course of the year, in the overall quality of protection and support available to asylum seekers and refugees who come to Australia by boat.

“Indeed, they highlight that, when policies and practices are based primarily on deterrence, they can have harmful and, at times, punishing consequences for people affected, particularly families and children.”

The UN recommended that all pregnant asylum seekers be removed from Nauru until adequate medical facilities are available.

Since the July 19 riot, there had been a deterioration in conditions and all processing had stopped.


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Filed under Analysis, PNG/Pacific Solution, UNHCR

Asylum seeker children evacuated from Nauru due to health issues

November 24, 2013

A group of unaccompanied child asylum seekers has been transferred from Nauru to Brisbane amid concerns about their mental health and fears they may try to self-harm.

The medical evacuation, which began on Friday, has occurred in part because the Nauruan government has expressed safety concerns about the children.

Further, it is understood that one of the children being medically evacuated is a teenage girl who was only sent to Nauru three days ago. Fairfax Media has been told by well-placed sources one of the girls had attempted suicide on Christmas Island in recent weeks and had also been self-harming but that did not prevent her deportation from Nauru.

It is understood that four children – one boy and three girls – were living on the Pacific island and were not going to school.


A spokeswoman for the Nauruan government confirmed that three children had been transferred off the island on Friday. She was unsure what had happened with the fourth unaccompanied child asylum seeker.

The Nauruan Justice Minister is the legal guardian of unaccompanied minors.

A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, said: ”Any health transfers occur in accordance with standing policies. The government’s policy is that there are no exceptions to offshore processing. Health services are constantly reviewed to ensure they are provided to the appropriate standard.”

Meanwhile, the independent schools sector has called for asylum seeker children denied education on Christmas Island to be urgently brought to the mainland.

Up to 433 asylum seeker children interred at Christmas Island’s detention centres are being prevented from going to school as the centres swell with asylum seekers.

According to the most recent figures, as the Manus Island and Nauru centres fill, there were , 2217 asylum seekers, including 433 children – 76 of them unaccompanied.

The Immigration Minister’s office referred questions about the children to a November 8 press conference, in which he said no decision had been made about the fate of the children.

”These issues are not insurmountable and I am sure, with continued consultation, that we will be able to put in place appropriate arrangements to meet all of our obligations,” Mr Morrison said. ”And I should stress that no final decisions have been taken on how that matter will be addressed.”



Filed under Detention Centers, PNG/Pacific Solution

Indonesian immigration official: Boat people free to go to Australia

November 23, 2013

Boat people fee to leave Indonesia ... Senior Immigration official in Indonesia says the spying issue has so incensed the countr

A SENIOR Indonesian immigration official says he will no longer take measures to stop asylum seekers attempting to take boats to Australia as the fallout over the spying scandal continues.

The comments, from the head of immigration at the Law and Human Rights Agency in Medan, come as asylum seekers in Cisarua, south of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, say they hope to take advantage of the breakdown in co-operation with Australia and may take boats in the coming days.

Several Sri Lankan asylum seekers told AAP they had read reports of a diplomatic crisis, in the wake of revelations Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s phone was bugged by Australian spies, and said they were desperate to try to make the crossing to Christmas Island soon.

However, eight Afghan asylum seekers, also in Cisarua, said today they were no longer interested in paying people smugglers to take them to Australia.

The head of immigration at the Law and Human Rights Agency in North Sumatra, Rustanov, who has only one name, said surveillance efforts aimed at stopping boat traffic would be halted.

“We have no business with Australia. Let boat people head there. No surveillance is needed,” he said, according to a report in the Jakarta Post.

The official said his office, in co-operation with police, had in the past frequently arrested asylum seekers attempting to take boats.

“Now there is no need to waste energy arresting them,” Rustanov said.

However, a senior official with the Yogyakarta immigration office, Tatang Suheryadin, said no new policy had been applied following the Indonesian government’s decision to suspend co-operation on anti-people smuggling efforts.

“The Immigration Director General at the Law and Human Rights Ministry has not issued any instructions on the issue,” Mr Tatang said.

West Java police chief Suhardi Alius said his office was waiting for instructions from the National Police regarding the handling of asylum seekers.


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Filed under Asylum Policy, Asylum Seekers in Indonesia

Afghani refugee makes new life in Mudgee

November 21, 2013

An Afghan woman leads her donkey past the empty seat of one of two Buddha statues in Bamiyan provinc

An Afghan woman leads her donkey past the empty seat of one of two Buddha statues in Bamiyan province


Residents in Mudgee say an Afghani refugee who has moved to the town is changing local attitudes about asylum seekers.

The man, who we are not naming to protect his family still in Afghanistan, arrived in Australia by boat in 2011 after fleeing the Taliban in 2010.

Locals have rallied around him, volunteering to teach him English and helping him find work.

Mudgee businesswoman, Frances Doolan, employees him and says he has changed her attitude about asylum seekers.

“I was very ignorant, really didn’t have an opinion on it to be quite honest,” she said.

“They were just stories on the television.

We’re in a small country town, so we don’t have anything to do with asylum seekers and now we do and we want to help.

Mudgee businesswoman, Frances Doolan


“It never touched me personally and I think I’m not the only one.

“We’re in a small country town, so we don’t have anything to do with asylum seekers and now we do and we want to help.”

He originally came to Mudgee with a farm contract worker.

Despite there being no Afghani community in the area he decided to stay because of the people.

“I thought maybe if I stayed far from the city, in countryside is better,” he said.

“I can talk with the people to learn English and improve English.

“I know everywhere, every country the countryside is better than city.”

He says locals have been very kind and multiple people have been helping him learn English.

“I meet one lady, her name is Lisa, she work in library,” he said.

She give me a few books, it still was for me hard. She say, if you want help, I can teach you.

Afghani refugee


“I talk with her say please give me some children book.

“She a little bit smiling and say ‘Why children book?’

“I say ‘I want to learn English’.

“She give me a few books, it still was for me hard.

“She say, if you want help, I can teach you.”

Local teacher, Chantal Tyrrell, says she asked him to come and tell his story to her year eight students.

She says it had an incredible impact.

“It was just amazing, what we noticed, just the difference within probably 10 minutes of the empathy that they found,” she said.

“From just seeing it on the news and really having no real connection to hearing his story and then all of a sudden wanting to help.

“We’ve got a beautiful community, but this has just made it extra special I think.”



Filed under Life after detention, Public Reaction/Perception Towards Asylum Seekers