The Austrlian PM vowed to implement refugee deal with Papua New Guinea.
Refugees who try to enter Australia by boat through Papua New Guinea will be settled in the country’s Manus Island in a few months, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised.
Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, Papua New Guinea is on the transit route to Australia for many refugees from Asia and the Middle East.
Abbott, who was speaking in Papua New Guinea on Friday during a state visit, said he is determined to implement an agreement, signed a year ago, which will see illegal asylum seekers settled in PNG.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said that the permanent settlement would begin just after parliament finalizes arrangements before May.
Saying he was “grateful” for Papua New Guinea’s assistance, Abbott admitted that it would be difficult for all refugees to settle in PNG.
Abbott said: “If you arrive illegally by boat in Australia you will never permanently settle in Australia because, as long as there is this prospect of permanent resettlement, there is the risk that illegal boats will keep coming.”
Around 1,200 refugees are currently at a detention facility on Manus Island. Manus was built for would-be refugees, many of whom have been found in Australian waters in unsafe boats after paying people smugglers in Indonesia to transport them to Australia.
Last month the center was rocked by two nights of rioting, during which a 23-year-old Iranian refugee was killed and around 100 people were injured.
It is not known where the asylum seekers on the island are from, but according to ‘crowdvoice’ in the past five years 33 percent of maritime arrivals to Australia came from Afghanistan, 21 percent were from Sri Lanka, 20 percent from Iran, 9 percent were stateless, 6 percent were Iraqi, 6 percent were from Pakistan and 5 percent were classified as “other.”
Crowdvoice is an open source online service focusing on social justice movements worldwide.
Non-governmental organizations have rejected the idea of refugees’ settlement in the Island; Amnesty International released a report last year on the Manus Island site, saying conditions there were in violation of international human rights law.