UN Refugee Agency Says Australia Reneged On Commitment To Resettle Refugees

Agency supported deal between U.S., Australia on condition those with families in Australia could join them

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, July 25, 2017) – The United Nations Refugee Agency says the Australian government has reneged on a commitment to settle offshore detainees with family in Australia.

The agency said it supported Australia's deal with the U.S. to take some of about 2000 refugees detained on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island on the clear understanding that those with family in Australia would ultimately be allowed to join them.

The agency's assistant high commissioner Volker Turk told the ABC that following meetings with the Australian immigration minister and senior government officials last year the UN agreed to facilitate the deal.

Mr Turk said the UN did so on the basis that it would be able to request Australian settlement for about 36 refugees.

"We went into this agreement on the understanding that indeed Australia would be part of the solution for a handful compelling humanitarian cases with strong family links to Australia" he said.

[PIR editor's note: On July 25, 2017 RNZI reported that 'A Manus Island detainee says Australia manipulated the United Nations to support its refugee resettlement deal with the United States. ... The detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said the deal was based on a lie. ... "The US deal was established under the basis of a lie, and the government has played with not only the refugees but media and international organisations."']

A spokesperson for the Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton said the government had never changed its position that refugees on Manus Island and Nauru would not be allowed to enter Australia.

"The position of the Coalition Government has been clear and consistent: those transferred to RPCs will never settle in Australia," she said.

Radio New Zealand International
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