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Australia says no 'stepping back' from asylum policy; refugee arrivals have dropped

Published on Jan 24, 2014 1:08 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia said Friday that asylum-seeker arrivals had dropped to their lowest level in almost five years and there would be no "stepping back" from its hardline policy, despite tensions with Jakarta.

Canberra's military-run Operation Sovereign Borders policy, which sees asylum-seeker boats turned back when it is safe to do so, has angered Indonesia due to several incursions, despite an official apology.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that no would-be refugees had arrived in Australia by boat for 36 days - the longest stretch without a vessel in almost five years.

"This is the longest period of no illegal boat arrivals since March of 2009," Mr Morrison said in a statement.

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