More than a dozen African athletes who disappeared while competing in the Commonwealth Games in Australia have been told to hand themselves in or leave the country before the end of the day.
The competitors from Cameroon, Uganda, Rwanda and Sierra Leone all disappeared from their accommodation on the Gold Coast – some without even competing.
Their visas all run out today.
The Cameroon team chef de mission branded his country’s missing boxers and weightlifters “deserters”.
Until now they have been in the country legally, but in order to remain they must lodge a formal claim for refugee status before their visas expire, at the end of the day.
BBC reports that several athletes have taken legal advice from an asylum resource centre in Melbourne – others are understood to have travelled to Sydney and Brisbane.
The Australian government has told the athletes to hand themselves in or enforcement action will be taken – warning that anyone without a valid visa will be tracked down, detained and deported.