Weekly media wrap - 2 February 2019

Kurdish asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani won the prestigious Victorian Prize for Literature for his book No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. Boochani has been kept on Manus Island since 2013. He wrote the book in Farsi using WhatsApp; it was translated by Omid Tofighian.

The Weekend Australian reported that a boat carrying asylum seekers is believed to have left India this month with Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian nationals on board. It is reported that the boat could be travelling to New Zealand. Estimates of numbers onboard vary between 80 and 200 people.

UNHCR’s Indonesian chief said that turning back asylum boats at sea puts lives at risk. Ahead of the upcoming Australian federal election, the UNHCR is expected to continue to lobby to end the practice of boat turnbacks and for Canberra to lift its restrictions on refugee resettlements out of Indonesia.

The Asian Football Confederation claimed the detention of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi in Thailand is not the responsibility of the AFC’s president, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa, because he was recused from overseeing the region 18 months ago out of conflict-of-interest concerns. Salman has been criticised for his inaction over the matter.

The UNHCR reported that six lives were lost on average every day in 2018 attempting to reach Europe crossing the Mediterranean Sea. The UNHCR released the latest Desperate Journeys report, which describes shifts in policy by some European states that saw numerous incidents where large numbers of people were left stranded at sea.