Australia to Send Afghan Refugee Home for First Time

Posted November 15th, 2011 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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Australia says it will for the first time send home an Afghan asylum seeker whose application has been rejected.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Tuesday that 26-year-old Ismail Mirza Jan will be deported Saturday under a new agreement with Afghan authorities.

Jan, a member of Afghanistan's minority Hazara ethnic group, says he fears for his life if he is returned to Afghanistan. But Australian authorities say they have concluded it is safe for him to go home.

The Australian government is under political pressure to stem a flow of asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and other countries, many of whom risk death in hazardous boat trips across the Indian Ocean when they flee their countries.

At the end of June, more than 1,000 Afghans were in Australian detention centers fighting decisions that deny them refugee visas.

Officials said Jan's application was rejected because he had failed to disclose that he was previously denied status as a refugee in Britain.