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Australia rejects future boat people refugees and sends them to Papua New Guinea

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The boat is full . Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, has declared that no more boat people will be allowed to into Australia. All unauthorized arrivals will now be sent to Papua New Guinea, Australia's neighbor.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new agreement between the two countries signed by Rudd and Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill signed an agreement in the east coast city of Brisbane last week. 

"From now on, any asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by boat will have no chance of being settled in Australia as a refugee," Rudd said.

The agreement will be in effect for 12 months and reviewed annually.

Softening their new position somewhat, Australia did pledge to help genuine refugees settle in Papua New Guinea. The poor nation is a diverse tribal society of more than 800 languages and seven million people who are mostly subsistence farmers.

Those seeking asylum at Australia's far-flung Christmas Island will be sent to the Manus Island processing center on Papua New Guinea and elsewhere in the country for assessment. As part of the agreement, Papua New Guinea will get extra foreign aid from Australia in a range of areas including health, education and law and order.

Those whose applications are not successful would be sent back home or to third countries. "If they are found to be genuine refugees, they will be resettled in Papua New Guinea," Rudd said.

The strict new guidelines are to discourage people considering a dangerous boat journey usually from Indonesia, so-called "economic migrants" who make the trip not to flee persecution but for a better life in Australia. Countless hundreds of people have died in sea accidents during the dangerous journey.

Rudd agreed that the move was as "very hard line.

"In the period ahead, our governments intend to make sure that the message is delivered loud and clear to people-smuggling networks around the world and those criminal elements within Australia who may be supporting them, that the hopes that they offer their customers for the future are nothing but false hopes," Rudd said.

Australia has struggled to prevent an influx of asylum seekers arriving by boat, with record numbers turning up to 17,202 in 2012, 15,728 so far in 2013. The most recent tragedy was a boat sinking last week that killed four people.

The ruling so far has failed to stop the flood. Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke said the rule would apply to refugees who arrive from Friday on.

The growing number of asylum seekers poses a major political problem for Rudd's Labor Party in elections.

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