Australia Has Not Completely Rejected New Zealand's Offer To Take Refugees

Most from Nauru, Manus to be resettled in U.S.; fate of remainder yet to be determined 

By Benjamin Robinson-Drawbridge

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 6, 2017) – Canberra has not rejected outright New Zealand's offer to take refugees from Nauru and Manus Island, according to Australian's ambassador for people smuggling and human trafficking.

Andrew Goledzinowski also said most of the refugees Australia detains offshore would be resettled in the United States.

The revelations were made last weekend at an Otago University Foreign Policy conference, according to a report by Fairfax.

Canberra has said that 1250 of the refugees were eligible for the US deal, but it was not known how many would pass Washington's extreme vetting.

The Kurdish journalist and Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani said last week that 470 out of about 700 Manus refugees had had first interviews with US officials.

Wellington's offer to take 300 refugees over two years was not taken up by Canberra as the refugees could return to Australia once they became New Zealand citizens.

Last year, the Australian government passed a law to prohibit its offshore detainees from ever re-entering Australia.

But that did not stop 140 Manus detainees appealing to the New Zealand government for asylum in May.

Wellington said granting them asylum was ultimately a decision for Australia.

Meanwhile, Manus Island refugees have been told they could be denied US resettlement if they refuse to move from the detention centre to the transit centre.

With the detention centre gradually being closed, refugees are under pressure to relocate to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre (ELRTC) on the outskirts of nearby Lorengau town.

The detention centre is earmarked for closure on October 31 and a posted note warns refugees that US authorities take "history of behaviour into account."

But fear is preventing the refugees from moving.

Some are scared of more attacks from the locals, while others, institutionalised and mentally ill from four years of detention, are simply too afraid to leave.

Mr Boochani said refugees also feared that moving to East Lorengau would result in them being forced to settle permanently in Papua New Guinea.

He said a group of 10 refugees were currently being targeted to make the move.

Having left the detention centre's condemned Foxtrot compound, the men from Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan have taken up residence in a tent in Charlie compound.

Mr Boochani said the men had been told power would be cut to their tent on Friday, effectively making them homeless within the detention centre.

Radio New Zealand International
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