According to the SBS news agency
Nine years later, the coalition government gave the green light to New Zealand’s proposal to resettle refugees in Australian out-of-state detention centers. Officials in the two countries say they have finalized a New Zealand refugee reception agreement.
Australian Home Secretary Karen Andrews and New Zealand Immigration Minister Chris Fafoe said today (Thursday, March 24) in a joint statement that they have finalized the refugee settlement agreement.
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The deal was originally signed in 2013 between then-Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and John Key, but was abandoned by the Liberal-National Coalition after seizing power over concerns that the refugees would return to Australia after settling permanently in New Zealand.
Under the final version of the agreement, New Zealand will accommodate 150 refugees a year from Australian out-of-state detention centers in Naru and Papua New Guinea over the next three years.
The program prioritizes refugees who are in Naru or who have been temporarily relocated from Naru and Papua New Guinea to Australia.
They must also meet New Zealand’s asylum requirements, be referred by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and not be included in any other third country resettlement program.
Stressing that Australia’s border policy will not change, Ms Andrews said those wishing to enter the country by boat in the future would not be eligible for resettlement in New Zealand.
“These arrangements do not apply to those who travel to Australia illegally in the future,” he said.
“Australia is steadfast – illegal maritime immigrants will not be permanently resettled here. “Anyone who wants to cross our borders will be returned or sent to Naru.”
Mr Fafui expressed satisfaction that Australia had accepted his country’s offer.
“New Zealand has a long and proud history of resettling refugees, and these arrangements are another example of how we are fulfilling our international humanitarian obligations,” he said.
“We are pleased to be able to provide resettlement for refugees facing an uncertain future.”
However, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees welcomed the agreement and expressed concern about the fate of hundreds of other refugees who could not be included in the program.
According to the organization, there are currently 112 refugees and asylum seekers on the island of Naru and another 1,100 inside Australia.