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MEDIA STATEMENT: 123 refugees remain in Papua New Guinea

123 refugees remain in Papua New Guinea (PNG) following several refugees leaving PNG for a third country option this week

There are 123 refugees remaining in PNG and approximately 110 refugees still remaining in Nauru. There are 70 refugees still imprisoned in Australia in onshore detentions centres and Alternative Places of Detention (APOD’s), who were brought to Australia from PNG and Nauru under the now repealed Medevac Law. From this cohort of refugees forcibly sent to offshore processing camps on Manus Island and Nauru under the Operations Sovereign Borders policy in 2013, ‘some 1400 people, the vast majority refugees, remain in limbo as a result.’ (UNHCR, July 19 2021).

In an open letter to the Australian Parliament, regarding Australia’s inability to resettle Manus and Nauru asylum seekers, the Catholic bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands stated that ‘by shifting its asylum obligations offshore Australia has undermined the rights of those seeking safety and protection and significantly harmed their physical and mental health.’ Jason Siwat, the Churches Migrants & Refugee Desk Director, has stated,"refugees have now become destitute and have now come to a depressing conclusion that resettlement elsewhere outside of PNG is highly unlikely." In another statement on 19th July 2021, the UNHCR once again urged ‘Australia to draw an end to this policy and urgently provide solutions for the remaining asylum seekers and refugees still under its offshore processing arrangements.’

Every refugee caught up in Australia’s cruel policy change in 2013 is Australia’s responsibility. Every person is owed safety and protection by Australia. Every refugee deserves the basic human right to freedom. Every above number is a human being, with a life Australia is destroying. Every person matters and every person will not be forgotten. The fight for these men and women will not stop.

Please continue to take action to fight for these refugees caught up in Australia’s cruel Operations Sovereign Borders policy. Please phone Alex Hawke MP and Karen Andrews MP and demand the refugees left behind in PNG and Nauru be brought to Australia, and the refugees indefinitely imprisoned in Australia be freed now.


Alex Hawke MP Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs - (02) 6277 7770

Karen Andrews MP Minister for Home Affairs - (02) 6277 7070

Alternatively, go to contacting Senators and Members at:

Articles referenced:

‘UNHCR statement on 8 years of offshore asylum policy’

By UNHCR Multi-Country Representation in Canberra, 19.06.2021

‘Eight years on, bishops renew call for resettlement’

Catholic Outlook, 21.07.2021

‘Australia Has Been Degrading and Torturing Innocent Refugees Offshore for Eight Years’

Sydney Criminal Lawyers, BY PAUL GREGOIRE, 23.07.2021

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