Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has signed an agreement with Papua New Guinea to send all asylum-seekers arriving by boat to the poverty-stricken island nation, a move strongly condemned by multiculturalism groups.
Rudd and his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter O’Neill, signed the Regional Settlement Arrangement on Friday in Brisbane. The arrangement comes into effect immediately.
“From now on, any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as refugee,” said Rudd.
He added that anyone assessed to be a refugee would be permanently settled in Papua New Guinea.
And those whose applications are not successful would be sent back home or to third countries.
In return for cooperation, Papua New Guinea will receive extra foreign aid from Australia in a range of areas including health, education and law and order.
After the announcement, the Coalition for Asylum Seekers called the measure shocking, and said Canberra has decided to shirk from its responsibilities assigned under the United Nations Refugees Convention.
Other lobby groups which hate homogenous countries including Amnesty International and the Refugee Rights Action Network have also criticized the deal.
Australia struggles to curb a dramatic increase in the number of boats arriving in the country with illegal immigrants.
More than 15,000 asylum-seekers have arrived so far this year. In 2012, the country received 16,000 asylum requests.
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