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, the Department has sent 4,183 people to Nauru or New Guinea. There is a slight discrepancy between this figure, provided by data on 14 July 2019, and the figure of 4,177 people provided in April 2019 to Senate estimates.

These figures does not include those born in those facilities. Between 19 July 2013 and 28 February 2019, 46 children were born to those transferred to Nauru and 125 children were born to those transferred from Nauru to Australia.

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 PNG and Nauru?

As of 31 August 2020, there were 170 people still in PNG and 180 on Nauru. These are the latest monthly statistics provided by the Department.

As of 2 March 2020, all but four refugees and people seeking asylum in PNG have been transferred out of Manus Island and live in Port Moresby. All those previously detained in Bomana Detention Centre have now been released.

Bar chart showing number of people in PNG and Nauru

On 28 February 2019, the last four children on Nauru departed for the US. According to Senate estimates, in March 2020 there was only one women left on Nauru, after seven out of eight women there were transferred to Australia in February 2020.

Children on and off Nauru

The big story in 2018 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 0 as of 28 February 2019 (note, the numbers are reported irregularly, so there is large gap between October and February).

Column chart showing decline in number of chilren on Nauru

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. This graph shows the changing number of people in the centres on Nauru and Manus over time.

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 since then lived 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. As of 2 March 2020, there were now only 4 men left on Manus Island.

53 men were, however, detained by PNG in July and August 2019 in Bomana Immigration Centre, a detention facility. In January 2020, the last 18 men held in the facility were released, after the others were pressured into signing to ‘voluntarily’ return to their home countries. When those men were detained in Bomana Detention Centre, the Australian Government excluded them from the statistics, as it considered the Centre to be run by the PNG Government.

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