With NZ offer rejected, Manus refugees doubt USA resettlement prospects
With NZ offer rejected, Manus refugees doubt USA resettlement prospects
Jacinda Ardern: 'Hard to ignore human face of Manus Island crisis'
06 November, 2017, 01:53
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected a revived refugee resettlement offer from New Zealand, dashing the hopes of hundreds of men who remained barricaded inside the Manus Island processing centre.
Australia has recognized that numerous asylum seekers are refugees who can not return to their homelands, but it refuses to resettle anyone who tries to reach the country by boat in a policy it credits with dissuading such risky ocean crossings.
However, during a bilateral meeting in Sydney with New Zealand leader Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, he said his government was focused on the USA resettlement deal which will take up to 1250 people. I want to stress: we determine which refugees come to Australia.
New Zealand citizens are typically allowed to work and live in Australia, a pathway that Australia fears could be used by the refugees to move to Australia.
Iranian Behrouz Boochani, who is living in the camp on Manus Island, described the conditions in a series of tweets earlier this week, saying the refugees had resorted to digging holes to try to find water to drink.
Fronting the media at Kirribilli House on Sunday, Mr Turnbull didn't shut the door on the offer from Ms Ardern to resettle the refugees, saying they had engaged in "strong talks".
"As I have said in New Zealand, we of course do not have the circumstances that Australia is operating under, but we also can not ignore the human face of what Australia is dealing with either", she said.
Australia has an obligation to do so under worldwide human rights law and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, he said.
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She also confirmed that New Zealand would not attempt to strike a deal directly with the PNG government.
"Australia blocking but has no right to say no", he wrote on Twitter.
The Australian government has not responded to Colville's comments.
Australia has brokered a deal with the United States, which will resettle 1250 refugees, subject to the Trump administration's "extreme vetting".
Australia entered into an agreement during Barack Obama's administration for about 1,200 of those detained to be resettled in the U.S.
United Nations rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva on Friday about the "unfolding humanitarian emergency" in the Manus island centre, where asylum seekers have been reported digging wells to try to find water.
"It's quite distressing to see the Greens ramping up the tempo on Manus Island because I don't want to see any incident there".
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