Under a new deal, Australia will now send asylum seekers to live in Papua New Guinea. The new agreement, announced by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, applies to all refugees traveling by boat.
Rudd and Papua New Guinea Minister Peter O’Neill signed an agreement regarding the refugees in Brisbane on Friday, allowing Australia to deport refugees to the developing island nation.
The move to send refugees from Australia to Papua New Guinea is apparently aimed at deterring asylum seekers from traveling to Australia in overcrowded, unsafe boats from war-torn countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Myanmar (Burma).
The announcement is part of a radical overhaul of Australia’s border protection policy, with Papua New Guinea at the heart of the overhaul. Australia has seen record numbers of asylum seekers in 2012. More than 13,000 have traveled to the country since the start of 2013.
Hundreds of refugees have also drowned while trying to reach Australia, especially near the country’s treacherous Christmas Island. As the boats are overcrowded and unsafe, they are more likely to capsize. While Australia’s plans to send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea and other developing nations has failed to stem the flow, it is likely that Rudd’s new deal could do so.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr also stated that asylum seekers are becoming less refugees and more “economic migrants” hoping to make a better life for themselves in Australia.
Australia’s new plan was announced on Friday and was met with backlash from Twitter users, who criticized the decision, namely because Papua New Guinea is a developing nation. Journalist George Megalogenis stated, “So a nation that began life as a penal colony will transport asylum seekers to its former colony of PNG. Australia, you got no class.”
Journalist Asher Wolf added, “Shorter Rudd: ‘Give us your poor, your weary, your persecuted, raped and starved and we’ll send them to a third world country.’ “
Do you think Australia’s decision to process and settle asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea is an acceptable way to deal with the country’s refugee influx?