10:16 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Asylum seekers are pictured in this handout photo provided by the refugee action coalition, taken inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea January 13, 2015

    Manus Island Center Unable to Host Refugees ‘Forever’

    © REUTERS / Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via Reuters
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    It is up to Australia to decide whether or not to close its offshore Manus Island regional processing facility in Papua New Guinea (PNG), but the Oceanian nation is not willing to host asylum seekers in the center indefinitely, PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said Thursday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, O'Neill told Australia's National Press Club (NPC) that there was a need to close the center "at some stage" in the future.

    "No, I did not say I want the Manus centre closed, I said that it is up to the Australian Government, that it is their call, that is their responsibility. But I stated that we cannot hold the refugees there forever," he told the ABC's Pacific Beat program.

    Speaking to journalists in Canberra, the prime minister warned that Papua New Guinea did not have the resources to resettle 916 refugees and asylum seekers currently being held in the Australian-run detention center.

    "Who is going to pay for it? Certainly the PNG government does not have the resources to resettle the refugees. We are also reassessing the numbers who are supposed to be resettled," he noted.

    O’Neill also acknowledged that the center had harmed his country's reputation.

    Asylum seekers, primarily from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, are routinely sent to offshore detention camps, such as the one on Manus Island, while their application is being processed by Austrialia.

    Tags:
    refugees, Manus, Papua New Guinea
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