Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that the first group of refugees is in the process of being transferred from Nauru for resettlement in Cambodia. The transfers follow the announcement in September 2014 of a deal under which asylum seekers in detention on Nauru can volunteer to be resettled in Cambodia.
As part of the 2015 Federal Budget, the Abbott government allocated $400 million to the creation of a dedicated new border enforcement agency called Australian Border Force. Up to 6000 officers will be hired by the Australian Border Force within two years.
The Asylum Seeker Assistance Scheme will also receive $21 million over the coming financial year. The funding will be partially offset by not renewing the grant funding of $140,000 per year to the Refugee Council of Australia. The budget also allocated $39.9 million to ‘anti-people smuggling strategic communications campaigns’.
A three-member panel was established by the Australian government to provide advice on child protection inside Australian detention centres on both the mainland and in offshore facilities. The establishment of the panel follows the final report released by the Moss Review, which found evidence of rape and sexual assault of minors.
A group of ten asylum seekers initiated proceedings in the High Court of Australia, challenging the legality of offshore detention. The Human Rights Law Centre represents the group.
Around 6,000 Rohingya asylum seekers and Bangladeshi migrants are adrift in boats in the Andaman Sea. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in Myanmar who face statelessness and discrimination. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia refused to accept the boats, though some migrants have been rescued in Aceh. The United Nations warned the situation may become a 'massive humanitarian crisis'. The United States urged regional countries to refrain from pushbacks. Australian prime minister Tony Abbott said he was 'in no way critical' of regional countries turning back boats.
Meanwhile in Europe, the European Commission unveiled a plan to bring 20,000 refugees to Europe in the next two years.