Missing CWG athletes resurface, want asylum in Australia

Missing CWG athletes resurface, want asylum in Australia

Missing CWG athletes resurface, want asylum in Australia

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has urged the competitors to give themselves up with the visas they were issued for the Gold Coast Games due to expire at midnight on Tuesday.

A number of African athletes who went missing from the Commonwealth Games last month have resurfaced seeking advice on gaining asylum in Australia, refugee advocates said on Tuesday.

The 11 athletes who come from Cameroon are consulting with Refugee Advice and Casework Service in the Sydney suburb of Randwick. But there were new reports Wednesday that the number of athletes could be closer to 20.

The Cameroonian light flyweight champion is dressed casually in jeans and runners and in one photograph audaciously wears his red and black Commonwealth team slippers.

It's understood the athletes will seek bridging visas, allowing them to remain in Australia while protection visa claims are assessed.

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Home Affairs officials have refused to confirm if any of the missing athletes or officials have returned home since the Games finished on April 15.

"If you haven't made a claim before your visa expires, then you become what's known as an unlawful non-citizen, and are liable to be detained and taken to detention".

"It would be up to the minister if they were granted a bridging visa".

"It's a country that's been under military dictatorship since 1994 so there is insecurity on a daily basis", he said. When we got up in the morning, they were not there.

In 2006, more than 40 athletes and officials who participated in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne overstayed or sought asylum in Australia, including from the African countries of Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

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Many received refugee status and some like Cameroon weightlifters Simplice Ribouem and Francois Etoundi went on to represent and win medals for Australia.

When an individual lodges an application to stay in Australia they are usually granted a bridging visa until the government determines whether they are owed protection as refugees.

The largest numbers were nearly 10,000 from Malaysia, 6,500 from China and 5,170 from the United States.

But the athletes' disappearance was not of an immediate concern to Australian officials.

In comments posted under the Facebook photos, friends say in French, "Cool my buddy, very well played", "Cool bro" and "Hoooooo, Australian".

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