Australia forcibly returned a Tamil asylum seeker, known as Rajah, to Sri Lanka without his protection claim being considered. This was a result of not meeting the government's October deadline to apply for refugee status. Rajah is the first asylum seeker to be returned by Australia under this new rule, which was announced by immigration minister Peter Dutton in May. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees condemned Australia’s decision to forcibly return asylum seekers to their homelands without assessing their protection claims.
Tensions remain high on Manus Island as locals protested the new Australian-built refugee accommodation facilities near Lorengau. Local landowners, angry about the facilities being built on their customary land, blocked the gates of refugee accommodation, cutting off food supplies and medical facilities while also preventing refugees from leaving and staff from entering the facility. Two refugees were attacked, and others have been threatened with violence if they leave the facility. The refugees were forcibly moved to the new facilities near Lorengau following the closure of the previous decommissioned detention centre in November.
The first tranche of Central American refugees arrived in Australia as part of the refugee deal swap with the United States. The 30 refugees, consisting of seven families, are understood to have fled gang-related violence in El Salvador. They underwent several months of assessment by the immigration department prior to arriving in Australia. Under the deal, Australia agreed to take Central American refugees currently located in US-run refugee camps in Costa Rica in exchange for the US taking refugees from Australian offshore detention centres.
Ali Dorani, an Iranian cartoonist also known as Eaten Fish, who was detained on Manus Island for over four years, was offered refuge in Northern Europe. Through his cartoons, Dorani has been instrumental in alerting the world to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island.
Refugee activists blocked and interrupted operations at Melbourne’s container port, protesting against Australia’s refugee detention regime. Protesters, some of whom suspended themselves over the port’s entries, carried banners reading ‘SOS Manus’ and ‘All refugees in detention are political prisoners’. Traffic was suspended and some of the protesters are expected to be charged with transport offences.