31 July: Two teenage asylum seekers have fled from detention in Darwin, the Immigration Department has confirmed.
The ABC understands the two are unaccompanied Vietnamese boys, both aged 16, who were moved by the department to Darwin from Adelaide a month ago.
The pair had previously been living in community detention in Adelaide and attending Woodville High School.
Woodville principal Meredith Edwards said staff and students were devastated that the boys had been sent to Darwin.
“These are 16-year-old boys and up until now, they’ve committed no crime,” she said.
She has been told the boys ran away while they were attending classes at Sanderson High, a school in Darwin’s northern suburbs that teaches many asylum seekers detained at the Wickham Point detention centre.
“I can only imagine how desperate and under duress they felt that they would take this alleged action. I just want our boys back,” Ms Edwards said.
“We don’t know where they are, we don’t know how safe they are.
“There’s not a big Vietnamese community in Darwin.”
A spokesperson for the Minister for Immigration said the pair were being accommodated at the Wickham Point Alternative Place of Detention.
“The Minister shares public concerns about the whereabouts of the individuals who have absconded and encourages the individuals to present themselves to an immigration office [or] officer,” the spokesperson said.
“The Minister has been advised that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s compliance field officers are conducting a thorough search to locate them.”
Meanwhile, a group of 15 other asylum seekers from Adelaide, including children, are still on the run after more than a month.
It is understood the group has sought refuge in Melbourne.