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Australia transfers refugees to Papua New Guinea

02 August, 2013



"This first transfer to Manus Island sends the clearest possible message that coming to Australia by boat is not the way to gain Australian residency," Burke said.

Under the new arrangement signed with PNG, unauthorized arrivals will be sent to PNG for assessment and if found to be refugees will be settled there.

"People found not to be refugees may be returned to their home country or a country where they had a right of residence, or held in a transit facility," he added.

The charter flight, with the group from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, escorted by the Australian Federal Police, DIAC staff, interpreters and medical staff, departed Christmas Island early Thursday.

The minister said that the group landed in Manus Province early Thursday where they will be accommodated while their asylum claims are processed by the PNG Government.

"The transfer should leave no doubt that Australia intends to stick by its commitment that, as of July 19, no matter where an asylum seeker arrives in Australia by boat - they are subject to transfer to Papua New Guinea," Burke said.

He said there is no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to PNG and transfers will continue on a regular basis.

Women, children and unaccompanied minors will be transferred in due course as appropriate arrangements are made.

Australia will work with PNG to expand the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, as well as explore the construction of other regional processing centres in Papua New Guinea.

"If people are paying thousands and thousands of dollars to a people smuggler they are buying a ticket to a country other than Australia," he added.

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