Contrary to agreement, Australia said it would not take in asylum seekers from offshore centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
UN Refugee Chief, Filippo Grandi said, on Monday, in Geneva, that Australia authorities passed the information on its new position through UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
The U.S. has agreed to relocate up to 1,250 refugees who have been languishing at Australia’s two offshore centres.
“Australia had promised UNHCR to take in sick and traumatised refugees who already have relatives in the country,’’ High Commissioner Grandi said in a statement.
Grandi also said that the asylum seekers, mostly from Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, had been in the Australia-run camps for about four years.
“UNHCR has recently been informed by Australia that it refuses to accept even these refugees.
“The Australian government’s decision to deny them this possibility is contrary to the fundamental principles of family unity and refugee protection, and to common decency,’’ he added.
The living conditions in the camps have been condemned by the UN, rights groups and by an Australian parliamentary inquiry.
According to UNHCR, life in the offshore centres has had a very negative impact on the mental health of the migrants.
“There is a fundamental contradiction in saving people at sea, only to mistreat and neglect them on land,’’ Grandi said.
Some 2,000 people are currently in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
However, the U.S. has not taken in any of them yet.
The resettlement is delayed because U.S. President, Donald Trump, has capped refugee admissions at 50,000 for this fiscal year. (NAN)