Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce linked the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 with increased asylum seeker boat arrivals. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said ‘there is no link between the Indonesian Government and people smuggling, while praising the leadership of Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
On the election trail, Labor leader Bill Shorten announced that one of his first acts if elected Prime Minister would be to work with UNHCR to identify resettlement countries for the 2000 refugees in Nauru and Manus Island.
In Vietnam, a court has jailed four of 46 asylum seekers intercepted by the Australian government off the West Australian coast last year. A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection stated that they were confident that Vietnam was upholding its agreement not to prosecute any of the returned asylum seekers on the grounds of illegal departure. A Human Rights Watch spokesperson said that Vietnam has ‘blatantly broken its promise to the Australian government not to prosecute boat returnees.’
In Cambodia, only one of five refugees transferred from Nauru remains in the country. In 2014, Cambodia agreed to take refugees in Nauru who had tried to reach Australia by boat in exchange for $40m dollars in aid. A Cambodian team will fly to Nauru next month to interview two more refugees who have volunteered for resettlement.
Europe’s largest makeshift refugee camp at Idomeni was shut down leaving over 4000 asylum seekers unaccounted for and 3000 to be transferred to new permanent refugee camps. Volunteers allowed in the new camps reported that they lack in basic amenities and unsafe to live in – an accusation refuted by Giorgos Kyritis, Greece’s migration spokesman, who stated there is ‘room to improve them’ but there is ‘water and electricity everywhere’.
Two boats carrying refugees capsized off the coast of Libya on Thursday and more than 4000 refugees were rescued in the course of 22 rescue missions by the Italian coastguard.