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Fortress Australia: Asylum Seeker and Migrant Death Statistics

This page collects information on deaths or missing connected with Australian border controls or irregular travel to Australia by asylum seekers and migrants. If you are aware of corrections or data that should be reflected on this page, please submit a comment. The toll in Australia is a small fraction of the toll worldwide.  The Border Crossing Observatory as part of its Deaths at the Global Frontier Project also compiles Australian border deaths statistics.

Deaths or Missing At Sea Since 2000: 1731

2012: 242

33 – 25 November – 33 asylum seekers reported drowned after their boat sank.  Habib Ullah, a survivor was picked up after 3 days in the water and shortly after the sinking was in immigration detention in Jakarta.

105 – 30 Aug – 105 asylum seekers lost at sea, 45 rescued off Indonesia

4 – 25 Jun – 4 asylum seekers drown when boat capsizes

90 – 20 Jun – 90 asylum seekers drown when boat carrying 200 sinks – search and rescue save 110.

1 – 1 March – asylum seeker reported tortured to death in Indonesian detention centre after being recaptured

1 – 27 February – Ali, 44 year old Iranian asylum seeker dies in hospital in Liverpool while in detention in Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. Ali had a wife and two children in Iran. See also

8 – 2 February – asylum seekers were drowned and another six missing on a boat travelling to Australia near Malaysia

2011: 330

203 – 17 December asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan and Iran drowned when overcrowded boat off East Java on way to Australia sank

97 – 14 November – asylum seekers from Iran and Afghanistan lost at sea

1 – 26 October Jayasaker Jayrathana a Tamil asylum seeker committed suicide in Villawood detention Centre. He had been recognised as a refugee. Detained since March 2010 but not given security clearance. Aged 27.

27 – 2 November asylum seekers believed to have drowned 2 November in sinking off Java

1 – Mohammed Asif Atay : Hazara Afghan asylum seeker found dead in cell in Curtin Detention Centre. 19 year old. Committed suicide after suffering depression and being in detention for 10 months. 29 March 2011

1 Meqdad Hussein Hazara Afghan asylum seeker found dead in his cell . 20 year old. Committed suicide using bed sheet. Scherger Detention Centre Weipa Queensland. 17 March 2011.

2010: 71

50 asylum seekers believed drowned in sinking of boat just off shore of Christmas Island. 15 December 2010

5 missing presumed dead April 5 Sri Lanka asylum seekers missing after attempting to swim for help from boat

12 drowned June Sri Lankan asylum seekers lost when attempting to transfer boats

1 30 year old male asylum seeker died after suffering heart attack in remote detention centre

1 Josefa Rauluni Fiji asylum seeker jumped to his death at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney when confronted with officials undertaking his deportation to Fiji. Rauluni is reported to have been a democracy activist before his death. 20 September 2010.

1 Ahmad Al-Akabi asylum seeker committed suicide in Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. A father of three from Iraq. It is reported that he requested to be allowed to return to Iraq shortly before his death. 16 November 2010.

1. David Saunders detainee in Villawood Detention Centre. Held in high security. Believed to have committed suicide. 8 December 2010.50 Estimated lives lost when asylum seeker boat (SIEV221) carrying men women and children founders off shore of Christmas Island. Local residents make desperate efforts to save people cast into the sea when their boat was smashed on cliff shore. Asylum seekers from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. References 1 2 3

2009: 171

105 Reports emerged in 2011 that a boat carrying 105 Hazara asylum seekers went missing on 2 October 2009. The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has made documents available concerning the disappearance at

1 Andrew Derek Moore who had lived in Australia from the age of 11 died of unexplained reasons days after being deported to London at age 43. He was deported after failing the character test.

5 drowned April boat explosion – failed rescue by Australian naval boat

12 drowned Tamil asylum seekers nw of Cocos Island

1 death on board, December Sri Lankan asylum seeker in Merak Port 250 asylum seekers refusing to leave ship after being detained on way to Australia. Alleged failure by IOM to provide medical treatment.

22 (5 deaths and 17 missing at sea) Aghan asylum seekers in wooden boat off Sumatra. Most likely ultimate destination was Australia. 28 May 2009

11 asylum seekers detained in Nauru and returned to Afghanistan believed to have been killed by Taliban including Tour Gul and Mohammad Halim. Reported April 2009.

14 January 15 Boat carrying 18 asylum seekers sinks off Rote Island soutwest of Timor. 4 survive. Asylum seekers had broken out of Indonesian detention centre. Source The Australian 16 December 2010 p 5






2003: 3

1 death in custody Fatima Erfani mother of three Christmas Island Detention Centre

1 death in custody Viliami Tanginoa (Tonga) Marybrynong Detention Centre, Victoria

1 death in custody 19 June Quoc Kinh Phung Marybrynong Detention Centre, Sydney after deportation order imposed

2002: 45

1 26 year old asylum seeker dies in Australian detention in Nauru

1 December refugee killed after being returned to Afghanistan

1 November ‘Nader’ asylum seeker deported to Iran, disappeared on return presumed killed

42 May 22 Asylum seeker boat carrying Afghan asylum seekers last sighted. Believed to have sunk enroute to Australia. Source: The Australian Dec 16 2010 p 5

2001: 356

3 drowned after capsicum spray used to force back asylum seekers in operation relex

353 drowned in sinking of SIEV-X (October 19)

2000: 513

160 asylum seekers believed lost at sea

350 asylum seekers believed lost at sea

1 death in custody Phuongtong Simplee Villawood Detention Centre2 drowned November grandmother and young woman pregnant with first child Nurjan Husseini and Fatima Husseini

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