Last refugee held on Nauru arrives in Australia
Foreign News

Last refugee held on Nauru arrives in Australia

The last refugee held on the Pacific island of Nauru under Australia’s notorious offshore detention policy has been evacuated to Australia, according to refugee advocacy groups.

The man arrived in Australia on Saturday night.

This was after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, said it would end a policy in place for more than 10 years.

“Over the past decade, our government stood by and witnessed abuse, assault, neglect, harm and suffering in offshore detention,” Jana Favero said in a statement on Sunday.
Favero is Director of Advocacy at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.
“Men, women and children sought safety and protection, yet we banished them simply for the sake of politics.
“We are thankful that the Albanese government has taken action and evacuated the last remaining refugees from Nauru.
“One chapter of misery is over.”
Australia resumed sending refugees to Nauru in 2013 under a previously abandoned offshore detention policy.
The government claimed the policy was necessary to stop people travelling to Australia in small boats.
They told such arrivals, detained in Papua New Guinea (PNG), they would never have the right to settle in Australia.
This is so, even if they have a valid claim for protection.
Refugee groups say the government sent 3,127 people to Nauru and PNG.
Many of them were suffering from mental and physical health problems due to their prolonged detention and separation from their families.
Refugee advocates, rights groups and the United Nations widely condemned the policy.
Some families forcibly separated under the scheme have taken their cases to the UN.

A short-lived medical evacuation programme brought some to Australia.

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Others have found permanent homes in other countries, including New Zealand and the United States.

Australia sent the remaining refugees back to the countries they had fled.
Some 80 people remain in PNG, and campaign groups say the government also needs to address their situation.

“Having spent billions to hold people in PNG, the Australian Government cannot just abandon them there.

Many need critical medical support – all need the option to come to Australia while resettlement options are found,” Marie Hapke, convener of the Australian Refugee Action Network, said in the statement.

Offshore processing first began around 2003 after an Indonesian fishing boat, carrying more than 400 refugees and asylum seekers, ran into trouble en route to Christmas Island, an Australian territory south of Java.

The crew of a Norwegian container ship – the Tampa – rescued them.

A standoff followed after the crew of the Tampa asked to dock on Christmas Island and Australia’s government told them to return to Indonesia.

Then Prime Minister John Howard, a conservative, came up with the ‘Pacific Solution’ to prevent the group from reaching Australia and brokered a deal with Nauru to take those rescued by the Tampa.

A Labour government elected to power in 2007 dropped the policy after elections.

But another different Labour government reinstated the policy in 2013.

This is as boat arrivals began to increase and elections loomed.

While Albanese has again signalled a break with the policy, his government also said it would continue to maintain the offshore detention facilities in Nauru.

This is as a “contingency” at the cost of millions of Australian dollars each year.

“The history of offshore detention and human rights abuses on Nauru will forever stain the record of both sides of Australian politics,” said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Though they committed no crime, refugees sent to Nauru lost 10 years of their lives.

“As long as Nauru remains ‘open’ and refugees remain in limbo in PNG, the dark chapter of offshore detention will close.”


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