Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews, who announced the end of the “Papua New Guinea” route on Wednesday, also warned that the strict asylum policy had not changed. Australia has used the two countries for years to house asylum seekers who attempt to enter Australia by sea.
“Australia’s strict policy to protect borders, including regional hospitality, has not changed,” Andrews assured. She tried to prevent asylum seekers from seeing in the decision an admission that Australia had taken the wrong place in the controversial camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Andrews: “Anyone who tries to enter Australia illegally by boat will be turned back or taken to Nauru.” This island is located about four thousand kilometers from Australia.
Australia has decided not to renew its contract with Papua New Guinea, which has been cooperating with Australian politics since 2013, after December. The government of the neighboring country also wanted to get rid of it. The 124 asylum seekers can be transferred to Nauru if they wish, or they can settle in Papua New Guinea. This country has made a commitment to be able to claim citizenship. Asylum seekers, including Iranians and Afghans, also receive financial support and can bring their families. Amnesty called the agreement between the two countries “a step in the right direction”.
With this decision, Australia is rid of a headache file. At the height of the controversial reception, more than 1,300 asylum seekers were staying in the camp. It was officially closed in 2017. Since then, asylum seekers have been staying in the capital Port Moresby, among other places. Some were transferred to the United States after the Obama administration showed its willingness to welcome them.
Human rights groups have criticized the poor conditions in Manus and the detention of asylum seekers for years. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees accused the Australian government of failing to fulfill its international obligations to help asylum seekers by hosting the Manus site.
But Andrews didn’t want to hear about it on Wednesday. Australia’s strict asylum policy to accommodate remote refugees has been “a success,” she said. She accused the Labor government of the time of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, which was forced to conclude the housing deal with Papua New Guinea in 2013, of following bad and weak policies over the years. previous years. “Under Labor, more than 50,000 people arrived in Australia illegally in more than 820 boats,” the Liberal minister tweeted. “At least 1,200 died at sea.”
The Australian government’s announcement to close offshore processing facilities in PNG is a step in the right direction. But for the 125 men who remain there, this is no solution to the more than eight years they have spent in limbo. #Game over pic.twitter.com/8J5DwwsGQ7
– Amnesty International Australia (@amnestyOz) October 6, 2021
The end of the reception in Papua New Guinea was already scheduled when Australia signed a new contract with Nauru in September. There are still 108 refugees living here, most of them for eight years. Human rights and refugee organizations then criticized the island state’s agreement to maintain “regional processing capacity” in Nauru for years to come.
“It means continuing the suffering, continuing the separation from families, continuing the uncertainty and continuing the shame of Australia,” tweeted Jana Favero, director of the Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC). According to the organization, Australia must offer asylum seekers a “safe home”.
But Andrews rejected this. “Anyone who arrives illegally by boat has no chance of settling in Australia,” the minister stressed. “Anyone who embarks on an illegal sea voyage to Australia will be returned or taken to Nauru. They will never be able to settle in Australia.
Amnesty believes that asylum seekers who have lived in Papua New Guinea and Nauru since 2013 should be transferred to New Zealand. This country proposed to include them. “The time has come for the Australian government to end their suffering for good,” Amnesty said.
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