The UNHCR said that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has reached one million as a result of the conflict in the Central African Republic. Many have fled to refugee camps, the bush or neighbouring countries.
Amnesty International criticised Bulgaria’s treatment of repatriated refugees, describing the conditions they are held in as ‘deplorable’. The New York Times reports that many of the returned asylum seekers are from Syria.
In Australia, the Opposition and the Greens accused the Government of a ‘cover-up’ following the release of Department of Immigration and Border Protection documents detailing a security incident on Manus Island in October 2013. Information of the incident was redacted on the basis that it would damage relations with Indonesia.
Scott Morrison announced that there had been 901 ‘illegal maritime arrivals’ from October to December 2013 – the lowest for the December quarter since 2008. However, the burden on the navy of ongoing surveillance and rescue missions has highlighted capacity and operational challenges faced by the patrol boat fleet. The first asylum seeker vessel for 2014 was intercepted on Thursday 95 nautical miles north of Darwin.
The alleged rape of an asylum seeker on Christmas Island drew attention to Serco staffing levels. The Government removed the alleged victim from accommodation with single adult males. In the face of criticism by the UNHCR at the slow rate in processing protection claims, the government released a document that says that the Nauru Refugee Status Determination Office has interviewed about 600 asylum seekers.