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Refugee Council of Australia
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Offshore processing statistics

About these statistics

The Australian Government does not provide many statistics regularly on offshore processing. The statistics on how many people are on Nauru and PNG, their nationality, the number of transfers, and the number resettled to the US or other countries is not provided regularly. Most of the information in this page comes through information provided through Senate estimates. Usually, the information provided in this way is already outdated by the time it is provided (for example, for the latest round of Senate estimates in October 2018, most information was provided as of 22 October or 30 September 2018, although the answers were not available until late December. As well, it should be noted that there are limitations and gaps in the data as the information depends on the way the question was asked and the frequency with which it is asked.

The main information still provided regularly by the Department is the numbers removed or returned (‘voluntarily’ or involuntarily) from offshore processing countries through its monthly updates on Operation Sovereign Borders, which began in September 2013. The numbers living in the Regional Processing Centres was also published in these updates as well as more detailed breakdowns in the Department of Home Affairs’ monthly detention statistics.

For the sources, graphs and notes on the data, you can download the data underlying these graphs here.

Key points

  • 3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or PNG as part of offshore processing arrangements since 19 July 2013 (when the then Prime Minister announced that they would no longer be resettled in Australia).
  • The latest (approximate) update from the Government on 3 February 2019 is that there are around 420 people in Nauru, just under 600 in PNG and just over 1,000 in total, with 4 children on Nauru due to depart soon and 456 resettled in the US
  • In the latest detailed official breakdown from Senate estimates, as of 21 October 2018:
    • there were 1,278 people (including 52 children) on Nauru or PNG , and 415 people resettled in the US
    • 188 people have been rejected for US resettlement as of the same date
    • By far the largest number of those refused are from Iran (91), although 16 Iranians have been accepted
    • There are 495 recognised refugees left in PNG, and 541 recognised refugees on Nauru

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Contact us

Do you have a question about our statistics, or would you like to know more information? Contact us at policy@refugeecouncil.org.au.

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