Refugee Council of Australia
Tents in Manus Island regional processing centre

Offshore processing statistics

How many people are on Nauru and PNG?

Since offshore processing began on 13 August 2012, 4,177 people have been sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Of these, 3,127 people have been sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea (PNG) since 19 July 2013, when the Australian Government changed its policy so that these people would never be resettled.

How many are there still on Nauru and PNG?

The numbers on Nauru and Manus regularly change. The most updated statistics were provided at Senate estimates on 21 October. More detailed statistics were supplied by the Department of Home Affairs for 28 August 2019. We have provided both below.

As of 30 September 2019, there were 562 people on both Nauru and PNG, with a further 47 people detained by PNG in Bomana Detention Centre. As of 21 October 2019, there were 3 men left on Manus Island, with the rest having been transferred to Port Moresby. As of 30 September 2019, 632 people had left for the US.

More detail was provided by the Department of Home Affairs as of 28 August 2019. It was then reported that there were 288 people left on Nauru, 306 people left in PNG and another 53 detained in PNG (a total of 647 people) and 619 had been resettled in the US (330 from Nauru, 279 from PNG and 10 from Australia). Another 258 people had been approved for resettlement in the US, but had not yet left (85 from Nauru, 35 from PNG, and 138 from Australia).

On 28 February 2019, the last four children on Nauru departed for the US.

This graph shows where people subject to offshore processing are, based on the Department’s more detailed statistics as at 28 August 2019, and updated by Operation Sovereign Borders updates as of the end of August 2019. (Note: The statistical report for June and September 2019 has not been published so is not included). 7 people were resettled to Cambodia in a deal that concluded in September 2018.

Children on and off Nauru

The big story of the past year has been the belated push to transfer children out of Nauru, thanks in large part to the Kids Off Nauru campaign. On 28 February 2019, the last four children on Nauru left the island.

This graph shows the rapid decline in the numbers of children on Nauru, from 122 at the end of the 2017-2018 financial year to 4 as of 3 February 2019. In three months of this financial year (to 30 September 2018), 37 children had been transferred. In contrast, in the previous financial year, only 13 were transferred to Australia. Those 37 children transferred to Australia this financial year stayed in Nauru on average 1,403 days. Those transferred in the previous year had spent an average of 1,328 days in Nauru.

Line chart showing reduction in number of children on Nauru in 2018 until no children left in 2019

Where are they living?

For the first few years, people were housed in detention centres, called ‘Regional Processing Centres’ by the government. The early days of Operation Sovereign Borders saw a rapid increase in the numbers sent to Manus Island. In January 2014, the numbers peaked at 1,353 people. The trend on Nauru was similar. The numbers there peaked at 1,233 people in August 2014.

Refugees living on Nauru are all now living in the Nauruan community, with no one living in the centre by the end of March 2019. There has been a rapid drop in 2018 of those left in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, from 338 people at the beginning of 2018 to 10 people by 31 December 2018. This graph shows the changing number of people in the centres on Nauru and Manus over time. As of 28 February 2019, there were less than 5 people still living in Nauru Regional Processing Centre.

Line graph showing number of people in offshore processing centres

The Manus Island centre was forcibly closed in October 2017, when there were still 690 men there. Most of the men have since been living in three centres on Manus Island, East Lorengau Regional Transit Centre, West Lorengau Haus and Hillside Haus. However, on 19 August 2019, the PNG government offered to relocate them all to Port Moresby. The last people were due to be transferred sometime in September.

There are grave fears, however, for 53 men who have been detained by PNG in Bomana, a detention facility, who have not been in contact since they have been detained. One of these men had been approved for transfer under the Medevac legislation, but PNG has refused to release him.



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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.