New Zealand agrees to take up to 450 refugees into Australian custody

Sydney, Australia, Mar 24 (EFE).- New Zealand announced Thursday it would welcome up to 450 refugees in the next three years held in an Australian processing center in Nauru, a small island-nation in the Pacific.

“New Zealand is very pleased that Australia has accepted the offer to resettle up to 150 refugees annually for three years,” New Zealand Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said in a statement.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome refugees who would otherwise face an uncertain future,” Faafoi said.

Australia said that, despite the agreement, it would continue with its strict immigration policies and that anyone who tries to reach the country by sea without regulatory permits would be sent to the Nauru center.

“The agreement is not valid for anyone who tries to arrive illegally by sea in Australia in the future. Australia stands firm: those who arrive illegally by sea do not stay here,” said Karen Andrews, Australian Home Secretary.

New Zealand granted refuge in July to Kurdish-Iranian writer and journalist Behrouz Boochani, held for six years in an Australian-sponsored immigration center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand did so as the writer was in the country with a special visa to present his award-winning book No Friends But the Mountains, which he wrote via WhatsApp messaging service.

This case was an exception, although New Zealand had been offering Australia an agreement to welcome refugees in processing centers for years, in third countries or Australian soil.

Many trying to reach Australia on perilous boat journeys are people who have fled conflicts in Afghanistan, Darfur, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria; others have escaped discrimination, such as the Rohingya minorities, in Myanmar or the Bidun, in the Gulf region.

Australia applies an inflexible policy with asylum seekers even if it is proven that they are refugees.

In 2012, Australia resumed its policy of detaining undocumented people in third countries and under conditions that have been denounced by international organizations, including the United Nations. EFE


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