Refugees are forbidden to talk to journalists on Nauru, so this individual had to be secretly interviewed in an abandoned phosphate mine. © Rémi Chauvin

Closing PNG processing facilities welcome, but 225 people are still trapped offshore – it’s time to accept the New Zealand offer

Amnesty International Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement of the closure of the offshore processing facilities in Papua New Guinea as a step in the right direction.

However for the 125 men who remain in PNG, this is not a solution to the more than eight years that they have spent in limbo. Amnesty International has consistently highlighted the dangers these men have faced on PNG, including recent assaults and their accomodation being ransacked.

Further, the decision to continue offshore processing on Nauru and the potential that those still on PNG could be transferred to Nauru, means the suffering of those trapped – more than 225 people in total – continues. The Australian Government must commit to resettling all refugees and people seeking asylum who have been detained in Australia’s offshore processing regime, starting with accepting the New Zealand offer of resettlement.

Moz Azimitabar, a refugee formerly detained on PNG, stated: “Transferring genuine refugees who have been tortured by the Australian government for nearly nine years to just another version of limbo is absolutely inhumane. It’s billions in Australian taxpayer dollars spent punishing survivors for a political agenda.”

Dr Graham Thom, Refugee Adviser for Amnesty International Australia, said: “While the decision to bring this sorry chapter in PNG to an end is welcome news, we need to see all those still stuck brought to safety. New Zealand has been offering since 2013 to resettle refugees who remain on PNG and Nauru, and earlier this year Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews, confirmed talks with New Zealand are happening. Now is the time to seal the deal. This suffering needs to finally come to an end.”