In the last 14 months, Australia has joined forces with international authorities to disrupt nothing less than 10 attempts to convey about 300 asylum seekers to Australia through sea according to documents gotten via freedom of information. These documents, provided by Federal Home Affairs Department, contain the number of disruptions by FLEA (Foreign Law Enforcement Agency) since 2013. Disruptions by FLEA are just one of the three arms of Abbott government’s border policy set up recently. The other two are offshore detention and processing and boat turn-backs.
Since inception, 78 disruption operations have been executed – about 2, 525 potential illegal immigrants were involved. In the last one year, 10 disruptions were carried out. 297 people were involved with the majority in Indonesia – others occurred in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
A multi-agency taskforce operates FLEA disruptions. The task force is led by Australian Federal Police which is charged to report to Stephen Osborne, head of Australia’s Border Enforcement Operation. They seek to stop vessels transporting asylum seekers from departing international ports.
In addition to almost 100 already stationed in various countries, more than a dozen liaison officers have been sent out to target recognized transport hubs according to Guardian Australia.
Disruption operations could take weeks or even months of serious work including intelligence gathering on people-smuggling plans by individuals. Interception is usually made very close to the point of departure of vessels carrying such asylum seekers.
A senior advisor with the Refugee Council of Australia, Asher Hirsch, said the work Australia is still doing with Indonesia to stop asylum seekers shows the desperation of Indonesia. He said Australia should rather work with Indonesia to see that refugees have the right to healthcare, education and work instead of focusing on interceptions and disruptions potential boat departure.
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