Oz obliged to look af­ter refugees

The Citizen (KZN) - - WORLD - Syd­ney

– Aus­tralia will not be al­lowed to walk away from le­gal, fi­nan­cial and moral re­spon­si­bil­ity for nearly 800 men when it closes its asy­lum seeker de­ten­tion cen­tre in Pa­pua New Guinea (PNG) today, PNG’s im­mi­gra­tion min­is­ter said.

Hu­man rights ad­vo­cates are warn­ing of a loom­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis when the Manus Is­land cen­tre closes if the men are not prop­erly re­sett led, with hun­dreds of the de­tainees re­fus­ing to leave the cen­tre for fear of be­ing tar­geted by lo­cals.

PNG Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Petrus Thomas said late on Sun­day that Aus­tralia would re­main re­spon­si­ble for the wel­fare of the men who have been de­tained in the Aus­tralian-funded cen­tre for more than four years.

Aus­tralia re­fuses to al­low asy­lum seek­ers ar­riv­ing by boat to reach its shores, de­tain­ing them in camps in PNG and Nauru in the South Pa­cific. The United Na­tions and rights groups have for years cited hu­man rights abuses among de­tainees in the cen­tres.

“It is PNG’s po­si­tion that as long as there is one in­di­vid­ual from this ar­range­ment that re­mains in PNG, Aus­tralia will con­tinue to pro­vide fi­nan­cial and other sup­port to PNG to man­age the per­sons trans­ferred un­der the ar­range­ment un­til the last per­son leaves or is in­de­pen­dently re­set­tled in PNG,” Thomas said in an emailed state­ment.

Aus­tralia said it would spend up to A$250 mil­lion (about R2.75 bil­lion) hous­ing the nearly 800 refugees and asy­lum seek­ers in Pa­pua New Guinea for the next 12 months af­ter its con­tro­ver­sial de­ten­tion cen­tre closes. –

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