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Australia Is Ending Offshore Processing In Papua New Guinea

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Australia Is Ending Offshore Processing In Papua New Guinea

Australia is ending its offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews revealed this week that the system of processing applications in the region will cease by the end of the year.

Ms Andrews said in a statement: "Australia will support anyone subject to regional processing arrangements in PNG who wishes to voluntarily transfer to Nauru."

"PNG will provide a permanent migration pathway for those wishing to remain in PNG - including access to citizenship, long-term support, settlement packages and family reunification. PNG will also provide support to people temporarily in PNG awaiting movement to a third country," the statement reads.

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"Australia's strong border protection policies - including regional processing - have not changed. Anyone who attempts to enter Australia illegally by boat will be returned, or sent to Nauru."

Credit: Richard Milnes/Alamy Live News
Credit: Richard Milnes/Alamy Live News

Refugees who are currently on Manus Island will get the option to be transferred to Nauru to continue their applications or they can be left in Papua New Guinea.

If they choose the latter option, they will get access to 'citizenship, long-term support, settlement packages and family reunification'.

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PNG has been wanting to end the offshore processing system in its own country for a while.

The Manus Island Detention Centre was ordered to close in 2016 by Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court, which found the detention of asylum seekers and refugees to be in opposition to their constitution.

The ruling five years ago stated: "The undisputed facts clearly reveal that the asylum seekers had no intention of entering and remaining in PNG. Their destination was and continues to be Australia. They did not enter PNG and do not remain in PNG on their own accord."

While it should be good news that the offshore processing centre is finally closing, refugee campaigners and detainees aren't happy.

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Behrouz Boochani, has been detained in PNG by Australia for more than seven years, and he told Guardian Australia the federal government has bungled this system horribly.

"The process to transfer refugees to America has been so slow and that proves that Australia has failed to resettle refugees in that country, they should hold accountable for this failure," he said.

Campaigner Abdul Aziz Adam added on Twitter: "The international community shouldn't allow Australia to abandons these vulnerable refugees in PNG, after they detained them for nearly a decade."

There are more than 120 men still in the Manus Island Detention Centre and they will have to decide what steps they want to take next.

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Featured Image Credit: DIAC/Flickr

Topics: Australia

Stewart Perrie
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