The Sri Lankan government today welcomed the announcement by Australia that it will not accept illegal asylum seekers anymore.
Under a new agreement reached between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) today, asylum seekers who travel to Australia by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia but in Papua New Guinea.
This was announced in a joint statement by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Australian Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Tony Burke, the Australian High Commission in Colombo said.
Under the new arrangement signed with Papua New Guinea unauthorised arrivals will be sent to Papua New Guinea for assessment and if found to be a refugee will be settled there.
“Arriving in Australia by boat will no longer mean settlement in Australia. Australians have had enough of seeing people drowning in the waters to our north. Our country has had enough of people smugglers exploiting asylum seekers and seeing them drown on the high seas. We are sick of watching our servicemen and women risking their lives in rescues in dangerous conditions on the high seas,” the Australian government statement said.
Regional processing arrangements in Papua New Guinea will be significantly expanded and people will be sent to Manus Island as soon as health checks are complete and appropriate accommodation is identified.
“PNG officials will assess their claims on Manus Island. Our governments will expand existing facilities on Manus Island, as well as establishing further facilities in Papua New Guinea. There is no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to Papua New Guinea. The Australian Government, in partnership with the PNG Government, will support settlement services for those with refugee status, as safe and appropriate accommodation and services are identified,” the statement said. (Colombo Gazette)