Australia evacuates last refugee from Nauru detention center

Sydney, Australia, June 26 (EFE).- Australian has evacuated the last refugee held on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru, the government confirmed on Monday, although it will maintain its contentious policy of processing refugees in third countries.

“It is an unmitigated good thing for the country that we’ve transitioned the last asylum seeker off Nauru. This has been a festering sore in Australian politics for more than a decade,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said in an interview with public broadcaster ABC.

But the processing center for undocumented migrants in Nauru – more than 4,600 kilometers from Australia – will remain “open and on standby” as part of the “overall approach” against illegal immigration, the minister said, insisting that it is “very important that we maintain our strength on the borders.”

The last refugee was evacuated on Saturday to the city of Brisbane, ending more than a decade of government offshore processing of refugees and asylum seekers from this small nation.

However, Australia also has a similar center in Papua New Guinea, from which some 80 refugees require “urgent evacuation,” according to the NGO Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC).

In 2012, offshore processing was reintroduced (it had been implemented between 2001 and 2008) in a year in which more than 5,000 migrants tried to enter the country aboard precarious boats.

Since then, thousands of refugees from Australia’s offshore centers have been taken in by other countries, including the United States and New Zealand, while others have been returned to their countries of origin or stayed in Australia after being transferred for medical treatment.

“At least 14 people subjected to offshore detention have died, many due to treatable illnesses, and everyone held offshore has endured a decade of human rights abuses,” the ASRC said of the policy condemned by the United Nations and Amnesty International, among other organizations.

Many of these migrants, including women and children, fled conflicts in Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria, while others escaped repressive government discrimination, such as the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Bidoon in the Gulf region. EFE


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