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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  11 comments for “Fortress Australia: Asylum Seeker and Migrant Death Statistics

  1. admin
    June 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    In reply to Setara on April 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you very much for letting us know. I’ve updated the page with this information.



  2. ali
    May 3, 2012 at 4:19 am

    my family like mother/father and my self are waiting about the information of 105 afghan refugee on boat Oct,2009 from Indonesia to Australia, they are life or death, missing,plzzzzz help me for God say,
    I am living from Quetta Hazara(Pakistan)

  3. Setara
    April 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    This website is a great resource for those interested in the asylum-seeking issue. However how about updating to include the tragedies in 2012? I know one boat sank between Malaysia and Indonesia killing 8 asylum-seekers trying to get to Australia:

  4. admin
    January 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    On 20 January 2012 we were informed by the FOI Officer at the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service that it had posted documents on its website in response to another Freedom of Information request lodged with them concerning the disappearance of a boat carrying asylum seekers around 2 October 2009. The documents including communications between Australian and Indonesian authorities are available at the following link:

    The documents indicate that the Australian authorities received reports of a boat in distress on this date carrying around 105 people. The boat never arrived in Australia.

  5. January 13, 2012 at 3:50 am

    salam ,,i also have the same problem of that boat ,,my; brother is on that boat if any one knows abt that boat plzzz let me know abt that plzzzz plzzzz inform meee about the boat of 105 oct 2009 whole family is dying to know abt my brother on that boat ……..

  6. Ali
    October 31, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Please, Look for some new information about 97 people who have lost since November 2010,

  7. admin
    October 18, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Dear Ali,
    Thank you for contacting us. We are sorry to hear of another boat which has gone missing. It must be incredibly distressing to family members. We don’t have any information we can share apart from what is reported in the media. However we have today lodged a Freedom of Information request with Customs. If this provides any useful information we will draw it to your attention. We hope that the relatives may be relieved of their uncertainty concerning the fate of their loved ones. regards Michael

  8. ali
    October 14, 2011 at 3:49 am

    plz let me know about the 105 asylum seeker on boat missing in Oct 2009 from Indonesia to Australia, plz help me….. I am worried about this…
    kindly inform by website… to all family……plz plz plz….

  9. admin
    April 28, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Hi there, Thanks very much for your comment and bringing this one to our attention. The media articles we can find about a missing boat with 97 asylum seekers around 26 December last year say that the boat arrived, although it had been thought to be missing. However if you have any more information that might clarify these reports would be much appreciated.

  10. April 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    hi dear, I thanks tu u and your websites members to share this with refugees. Please share the ninety seven people also who’s boat is missing

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