Vietnamese Asylum Seekers Flown To Manus Island

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Minister says offshore processing ‘a warning’ to refugees

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 5, 2013) – Australia’s Federal Government has flown a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers to Manus Island, declaring the move will act as a warning to others arriving by boat.

The group of 20 single men left Christmas Island late yesterday and arrived in Papua New Guinea this morning.

Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor says it should act as a further warning to those considering getting on a boat to Australia.

"They may well end up in processing centers in Nauru or PNG," he said.

The Government has repeatedly denied suggestions that Papua New Guinea was no longer willing to accept asylum seekers from Australia, but the transfer is the first to PNG since early February.

The plane returned to Australia carrying two women and a child who require medical treatment.

The Government has also sent a group of Sri Lankans back to Colombo, saying they did not have a legal right to stay.

Mr. O'Connor says they did not trigger Australia's international obligations under the refugee convention.

"We're not going to be seen as a soft touch. Those places are for refugees," he said.

The Sri Lankans were returned involuntarily.

Since August last year, nearly 1,000 Sri Lankans have been sent back.

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