06:49 GMT +325 March 2019
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    Asylum seekers at Australia's detention center on the island of Nauru gather on one side of a fence to talk with international journalists about their journey that brought them there.

    UN Agency Repeats Call for Resettlement of Australia's Offshore Asylum-Seekers

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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reaffirms its stance on the necessity of resettlement of refugees held in offshore detention centers to Australia in order to ensure their decent living conditions, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    "UNHCR’s longstanding position is that refugees should ordinarily be processed on the territory of the state from which they have sought protection. A proper and more humane response, especially for those with close family ties, is to bring the recognized refugees to Australia, where people can receive proper medical and psychological care, and start to rebuild their lives," Catherine Stubberfield said.

    READ MORE: Australia Gets Legal Go Ahead to Keep Sending Asylum Seekers to Offshore Centers

    Stubberfield stressed the acute need of resettlement of all refugees from Papua New Guinea and Nauru detention centers "after more than four years of limbo and harsh conditions" determined by Australian "offshore processing" approach.

    "As an immediate step, New Zealand’s continuing offer to accept refugees from both Papua New Guinea and Nauru should be accepted without delay. In the absence of additional third-country alternatives, Australia continues to bear responsibility for all who have sought its protection," Stubberfield added.

    Stubberfield highlighted that the majority of people transferred to Papua New Guinea and Nauru were recognized as refugees and need suitable long-term settlement opportunities.

    On Monday, Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that asylum-seekers in the Pacific were likely to stay in the Australian-run detention centers indefinitely because no other countries expressed their will to accept them.

    In November 2016, the administration of then US President Barack Obama initiated a resettlement program, as part of which the United States would accept up to 1,250 refugees residing in Australia. In exchange, Australia agreed to accept refugees from the "northern triangle" states of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Incumbent US President Donald Trump later slammed his predecessor's deal.

    READ MORE: Australia Agrees to Pay $53 Million in Compensation to Asylum Seekers on Manus

    Under the July 2013, Regional Resettlement Arrangement between Australia and Papua New Guinea, asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat without a visa were to be transferred to Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention center in the first instance. Australia also has a detention center on Nauru Island in the western Pacific. On October 31, Australia officially closed the Manus Island detention camp.


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    asylum seekers, refugees, Australia, Papua New Guinea
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