Australia snubs New Zealand asylum seeker offer

New Zealand's offer to take 150 asylum seekers being held in a Papua New Guinea detention centre has been rejected by Australia.

In a situation the UN have called a "humanitarian emergency", around 600 men have barricaded themselves inside the camp on the remote island of Manus, frustrating government efforts to shut it down.

Image:Jacinda Ardern renewed her refugee offer when she met with Malcolm Turnbull

Food, running water and electricity have been cut off, and the men are reported to have resorted to digging wells.

The Canberra government wants to move the men to a transit centre elsewhere on the island, leading many of the men – the majority of whom have refugee status – to fear they will never reach Australia.

The men also say they fear violence at the hands of locals.

Protests over the treatment of the refugees have taken place across Australia
Image:Protests over the treatment of the refugees have taken place across Australia

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern for her offer to take some of the asylum seekers, but said his priority was to work through an existing refugee swap deal negotiated with former US president Barack Obama.

The 2016 agreement – which has been strongly criticised by President Trump – would see up to 1,250 asylum seekers in the US, while in return Australia would accept refugees from Central America.

Australia's immigration policy has been widely criticised
Image:Australia's immigration policy has been widely criticised

So far just 54 refugees have been accepted with 24 flown to the US.

New Zealand first offered to take 150 refugees back in 2013 and Ms Ardern has said the offer "remains on the table".

Australia's "Sovereign Borders" immigration policy – which refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores – has been widely criticised by the UN and human rights groups.

But the government has defends its offshore detention policy insisting it prevented deaths at sea.

Australia also has a detention centre on the remote Micronesian island nation of Nauru.

Protests calling for detainees to be allowed to resettle in Australia have been held in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.


Original Article

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