Australia denies Vietnamese refugees whereabouts

Vietnamese refugee boat nowhere to be seen after first noticed in northwest coast of Australia

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

A Vietnamese refugee boat carrying 42 migrants was spotted in the north-west coast of Australia last Monday morning and has not been seen since.

The refugee asylum seekers are believed to have been sent back to Vietnam by the Australian authorities. However, the government refuses to accept or deny anything on the issue.

Green political party Australian Greens believes that the government has violated international law regarding refugee relocation.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the government would "do what we have always done, and that is to act in accordance with Australia's interest."

"Handing these people directly over to the Vietnamese Government constitutes refoulement, which is a breach of the Refugee Convention," Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

The senator thinks that the Australian government has to “come clean” about the current state of the refugees and get first aid, as children are also believed to be aboard.

In an interview with ABC, president of the Vietnamese community in Victoria, Australia, Bon Nguyen, expressed his deep worries about the situation, as he believes the refugees were indeed sent back to Vietnam.

"I have a great fear for their safety," he told ABC.

"If [the] Australian Government has returned them back to Vietnam already, please have some sort of monitor programme so that our Australian embassies in Vietnam can actually keep an eye on them," he added.

According to ABC, Trung Doan from VOICE, the Australian government was believed to sent people over the refugee boat to estimate the situation.

"I don't have confidence in that interview process," he said. "The last group of Vietnamese boat people who were exposed to it were declared safe to return to Vietnam and, now they have, at least one of them is in jail."

Australian refugee law indicates that asylum seekers are usually relocated to Nauru,Papua New Guinea or Cambodia or they are even sent back to their countries.

"People will not come to this country illegally by boat. If any, by hook or by crook, actually get here they will never get permanent residency in this country," Abbott told ABC.

TRTWorld and agencies