Julie Bishop says new resettlement countries are not being considered for Manus Island refugees. (ABC News: Bethanie Harriman)
The Papua New Guinea Government wants Australia to set a deadline to get refugees from Manus Island out of the country.
- PNG officials fear a large number of Manus refugees will not be included in the US deal
- Attempts to resettle the men in PNG has largely failed, PNG’s Immigration Minister says
- Cambodia’s the only country which could take refugees from Australia’s offshore processing centres
PNG has formed a special team to negotiate with Australia’s Home Affairs Department to ensure all refugees from Manus Island are resettled in a third country, soon.
So far, only 84 of the roughly 600 refugees on Manus Island have been sent to the United States under the resettlement deal between Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and former US president Barack Obama.
Immigration officials and MPs in PNG fear a large number of Manus refugees will not be included in the US deal.
PNG’s Immigration Minister, Petrus Thomas, said attempts to resettle the men in Papua New Guinea had largely failed, and Australia needed to step in.
“We want them out of here as soon as possible because the refugees we have in Manus, they really want to get out and they want us to get them out, but Australia needs to come in and make sure they settle in a third country,” he said.
“So it’s Australia’s responsibility to move them out.”
Most Manus refugees don’t want to resettle in PNG, Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas said. (Reuters)
The existing agreement between Australia and PNG states PNG will resettle the men, but Mr Thomas said PNG needed help to ensure they went somewhere else.
“Most of them, they don’t want to resettle in PNG,” he said.
“The ball is in Australia’s court to make sure they resettle in a third country.”
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop — who is visiting Port Moresby — indicated new resettlement countries were not being considered.
Ms Bishop said Cambodia was the only country which could take refugees from Australia’s offshore processing centres.
“I met with the Cambodian Prime Minister recently and that arrangement remains on the table,” she said.
“It’s a question of people volunteering to go though — Cambodia can’t force people to go there.”
The Papua New Guinea Government is also trying to resolve the cases of more than 100 men who refused to give their refugee claims to PNG for processing, and others which cannot be sent back to their home countries.