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UN tells Australia to end 'dire' offshore detention

Staff Writer | July 24, 2017
Australia has been told to end its 'dire' and 'indecent' offshore detention of asylum seekers by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Filippo Grandi
Immigrants   The policy is estimated to have cost about $AU5 billion
Filippo Grandi said Australia's policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru was contrary to common decency and had caused extensive and avoidable suffering for far too long.

For four years, more than 2000 people have been detained in those countries after arriving in Australia by boat to seek asylum.

In that time, the policy is estimated to have cost about $AU5 billion but is heralded by the Australian government as a deterrent to people smugglers.

My Grandi said the offshore detainees were languishing in unacceptable circumstances in which many had suffered physical and psychological harm.

He said in light of their dire humanitarian situation, his commission (UNHCR) had agreed to help with the relocation of refugees to the United States following a bilateral agreement between Australia and the US.

Mr Grandi said he agreed to do so on the clear understanding that vulnerable refugees with close family ties in Australia would ultimately be allowed to settle there.

However, he said he had recently been informed by Australia that it refuses to accept even those refugees.