‘Aus­tralia should ac­cept NZ of­fer to re­set­tle refugees’

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

SYD­NEY: The UN refugee agency on Tues­day urged Aus­tralia to ac­cept New Zealand’s of­fer to re­set­tle 150 refugees from an aban­doned Aus­tralian-run de­ten­tion cen­tre in Pa­pua New Guinea, as about 450 men re­main bar­ri­caded inside with­out food or wa­ter.

The asy­lum-seek­ers have been holed up inside the cen­tre for the past two weeks de­fy­ing at­tempts by Aus­tralia and Pa­pua New Guinea to close the fa­cil­ity, say­ing they fear for their safety if moved to tran­sit cen­tres.

With many de­tainees com­plain­ing of ill­ness bought about by the un­san­i­tary con­di­tions in the camp, the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Aus­tralia to al­low 150 of them to re­set­tle in New Zealand.

“We urge Aus­tralia to re­con­sider this and take up the of­fer,” Nai Jit Lam, deputy re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the UNHCR said.

Aus­tralia’s “sov­er­eign bor­ders” im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, un­der which it re­fuses to al­low asy­lum-seek­ers ar­riv­ing by boat to reach its shores, has been heav­ily crit­i­cised by the United Na­tions and hu­man rights groups but has bi­par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal sup­port in Aus­tralia.

Aus­tralia says al­low­ing asy­lum­seek­ers ar­riv­ing by boat to reach its shores would only en­cour­age peo­ple smug­glers in Asia and see more peo­ple risk their lives try­ing to sail to Aus­tralia. Two mo­tions in­tro­duced in Aus­tralia’s par­lia­ment by the La­bor and Green par­ties, and passed in the up­per house on Tues­day, call on Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull to ap­prove the New Zealand pro­posal.

— Reuters

An un­dated im­age re­leased on Mon­day shows de­tainees stag­ing a protest inside the com­pound at the Manus Is­land de­ten­tion cen­tre in Pa­pua New Guinea.

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