New Zealand has stated that it will take in 450 asylum seekers and refugees detained in Australia or its offshore detention centre on Nauru as a result of Australia’s tough immigration policy, nine years after its first offer was turned down.
Many of the refugees have been held in detention for years, with no possibility of ever being allowed to return to their homes in Australia.
“New Zealand has a long and proud history of refugee resettlement, and this agreement is yet another indication of how we are upholding our humanitarian international commitment,” said Kris Faafoi, New Zealand’s Immigration Minister. “We are delighted to be able to provide relocation opportunities for refugees who might otherwise have faced an uncertain future.”
In 2013, Australia enacted tough new restrictions, sending any asylum seekers who attempted to enter the country by boat to so-called offshore processing centres in Papua New Guinea (PNG) or Nauru. They were advised that even if they were judged to be in need of refugee status, they would never be allowed to reside in Australia. Approximately 1,300 persons, including those allowed to remain in the community on temporary visas, are currently classified as refugees, according to refugee advocacy groups.
While the camps in PNG and Nauru are closed, approximately 200 individuals remain in the Pacific, while others were flown to Australia in 2019 under a short-lived medical evacuation scheme and have been staying in places like Melbourne’s Park Hotel ever since.
New Zealand said it will accept 150 migrants every year for the next three years, using the same screening and Refugee Quota Program evaluation process as other refugees entering the country, according to a statement.
Detained refugees have long complained about the arbitrary character of the system, which gives Australian officials broad control over their destiny.
Moz Azimitabar was released from immigration detention in 2021 on a six-month bridging visa that permits him to work but not study. He praised New Zealand’s announcement on Thursday.
He remarked on Twitter, “Today is a tremendous victory for human rights & illustrates that the government cannot ignore people power!” “It’s my birthday today, and this is the finest present I’ve ever received!”
New Zealand offered to absorb part of the refugees in 2013, but Australia continually declined, and the refugees were eventually negotiated with the United States.
According to January figures from the Refugee Council of Australia, the US has taken in little over 1,000 refugees from processing centres.
Critics have slammed Australia’s handling of migrants and the conditions in its detention camps, with some being medically evacuated to Australia from Pacific islands due to public outrage over the health effects of protracted imprisonment.
According to an Australian statement, the latest arrangement excludes anyone from PNG.
“Offshore detention is a terrible and bloody chapter in our country’s history, and its bipartisan foundation is a national shame,” stated Nick McKim, a Green senator from Tasmania’s island. “The Australian government delayed far too long to accept New Zealand’s offer, and the accord should have offered relocation for more individuals, sooner.”
The administration maintains that the policy has stopped individuals from making perilous sea crossings to reach its beaches, and that anyone who attempts to do so will be denied entry.
Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said in a statement that the agreement “does not apply to anyone who undertakes an illegal maritime passage to Australia in the future.”
“Australia maintains its resolve – unauthorised maritime arrivals will not be allowed to remain in the country indefinitely.” Anyone attempting to cross our border will be turned back or sent to Nauru.”