More Sri Lankans return from Australia

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, today announced that another group of Sri Lankan men were returning home voluntarily after choosing not to pursue their asylum claims, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said.

The group of 28 men consists of people who arrived both before and after new regional processing arrangements were announced on 13 August, and came out of detention facilities on Nauru, Christmas Island and the mainland.

Bowen said the Sri Lankans were removed on a charter flight from Christmas Island to Colombo today that departed at 8.15am local time (11.15am AEST).

“These individuals have chosen not to pursue asylum claims and therefore are no longer seeking to engage Australia’s protection obligations,” Mr Bowen said.

“The majority of this group were in the post-13 August cohort and faced transfer to a regional processing centre in Nauru or Papua New Guinea – they have instead chosen to return home voluntarily.”

Mr Bowen said two more transfers of boat arrivals to Nauru were completed this week and more would follow in the coming days and weeks.

“People who pay smugglers to risk their lives on a dangerous sea journey are throwing their money away – there is no visa awaiting them, no speedy outcome, no special treatment,” he said.

“Regular transfers to Nauru and more Sri Lankans returning home is further proof that people smugglers only sell lies and make false promises about what awaits people in Australia.

“This Government is determined to break the people smuggling trade and stop people getting on those dangerous boats.”

The group of Sri Lankan men included two from Nauru, 20 from Christmas Island and six from mainland facilities including Villawood and Yongah Hill.

People in immigration detention can request their removal from Australia at any point in time. Those who choose to depart voluntarily can be provided with individual reintegration support to assist with their sustainable return, through the International Organization for Migration.

Reintegration packages are determined on a case-by-case basis depending on need and eligibility.