Australia-PNG regional resettlement agreement carried out

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August 14, 2013 – Under the regional resettlement agreement signed between Australia and Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby in May 2013, the former continues to send batches of asylum seekers to the latter, prior to the unauthorised arrivals being assessed for their refugee status.

The agreement between the two countries states that Australia can use Manus Island, Christmas Island, and other processing centres in PNG to temporarily hold asylum seekers while being assessed. If found to be refugees, seekers are settled in PNG; otherwise, they are sent back to their respective countries or any country where they have a right of residence.

“People found not to be refugees may be returned to their home country or a country where they had a right of residence, or held in a transit facility,” said a DIAC spokesman.

The latest arrivals to PNG included a group of 39 single adult men who were boarded on a charter flight. This group, which is the third since the start of the arrangement, comprised 34 Iranians, four Pakistanis, and an Afghan. The group was escorted by the Australian Federal Police, Australian immigration officials, interpreters, and medical staff. Prior to the third transfer, the PNG Government received 40 Afghani and Iranian men.

The joint agreement also states no limit for the number of asylum seekers to be held in custody in PNG. Transfers are to be made on a regular basis, and women, children, and minors will be processed and transferred immediately. The resettlement of these refugees is funded by the Australian Government

Despite compliance with the border protection policy, PNG’s National Planning Minister Charles Abel expressed his opinion on the so-called “PNG Solution”: “We are not expecting large numbers of people settling in Papua New Guinea. I want to make it very clear. We are doing this in order to deter people from coming to Australia.”

The PNG Solution saves Australia $420 million from building its own detention network onshore. In addition, the Australian visa program for migrants receives higher integrity more than ever because of the agreement.

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