Refugee Action Coalition
MEDIA RELEASE 06/10/2021
GOVERNMENT DISGRACEFULLY DESERTS PNG REFUGEES; IT’S TIME TO END OFFSHORE DETENTION; FREE THE MEDEVAC REFUGEES
The announcement that Australia is moving to dump the refugees cannot cover up its on-going responsibility for the refugees and asylum seekers they unlawfully sent to PNG in 2013.
PNG Immigration statement is available below:
In 2016, the PNG Supreme Court found that the agreement between PNG and Australia to transfer asylum seekers from Australia to Manus Island was unlawful. Yet five years later, refugees dumped in PNG still have no certainty.
Although the PNG immigration is offering a better living allowance than the Australian government, the uncertainties are great. There are still many assaults and robberies; PNG citizenship is very difficult, and the conditions for family reunion are not clear.
Shamefully the government is also trying to distance itself from PNG by trafficking refugees from PNG to Nauru. Although these people have been found to be in need of protection, the government will transfer them from one site of offshore detention to another, with no guarantee about their future.
The government announcement says that transfers to Nauru (only available to single men) ‘must occur before 31 December 2021’. But that is an unseemly haste when so much is at stake.
“We are still hostages,” one refugee in Port Moresby told the Refugee Action Coalition, “They have complete power over us to do what they want. We have been hostages for over eight years.”
The agreement does seem to have brought an end to any possibility that PNG would ever again be involved in warehousing Australia’s asylum seekers; and an end to any possibility that the Australian government can return refugees from Australia to PNG.
The Morrison government must immediately release all those who have been transferred from Manus and Nauru, but are still being held in detention centres and hotel prisons in Australia.
The announcement puts more attention on Nauru that is still holding around 100 refugees and asylum seekers who are still Australia’s responsibility, and still have no security.
“The government is just shuffling the detention deck chairs,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The only just solution is to end offshore detention, and bring all those presently in PNG and on Nauru to Australia. The Medevac refugees should be freed.”
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713