1,000 asylum seekers returned from Australia

Since August last year the total number of Sri Lankan asylum seekers who voluntarily flew home to Colombo reached almost 1,000, including the recent return of 13 people, the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka said on Tuesday.

They either failed to engage Australia’s protection obligations or voluntary withdrew from the asylum seeker process after arriving by boat to Australia. Both voluntarily or involuntarily, a total of 942 Sri Lankan asylum seekers have returned to the island, the Daily Mirror reported.

Representing those who abandoned their claims for asylum, there were 213 voluntary returns.

On January 17, the most recent group of involuntary returnees totalling 19 arrived in Sri Lanka while transfers of asylum seekers to Nauru and Papua New Guinea regional processing facilities continue.

The facilities were established following the Australian government’s policy announcement on August 13, 2012.

Two Sri Lankans who have joined a group of 30 men on January 22, in the latest transfer to Nauru, will remain there until their claims are processed.

The Australian government would continue to return people, Australia’s Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen has said, adding where they do not engage Australia’s international obligations.

“People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away,” Bowen said. “There is no visa on arrival, there is no speedy outcome, and there is no special treatment.”
 

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