19 July 2018

Five years on: the cruelty and suffering of offshore detention must end


On the five-year anniversary of Australia’s refugee deal with Papua New Guinea, the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has again condemned the use of Manus Island and Nauru for the continuing punishment of people who have sought our help while fleeing persecution.

Mr Frank Brassil, spokesperson for the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council, said, “After enduring five years of deplorable conditions and endless uncertainty, the Government must act promptly to bring those on Manus Island and Nauru to safety and protection.”

“We are alarmed by recent reports from the UNHCR and others on the deterioration in living conditions and safety on Manus, the progressive withdrawal of Australian Government-funded services, and growing confusion and chaos.”

The St Vincent de Paul Society is deeply committed to treating all people with dignity, humanity and respect.

Mr Brassil urged the Government to secure durable solutions outside of the bilateral arrangements between Australia and the United States, including acceptance of the New Zealand offer.

“While it is good that around 100 men from Manus have now been resettled in the US, over 600 still languish in PNG and around 900 men, women and children remain on Nauru. The Prime Minister has said the US resettlement process could take until the end of 2019, and we know the US will not accept refugees from Iran, Somalia or Sudan.”

“Having created this suffering, the Australian Government cannot simply sit on its hands and say they are waiting for the US to finish its process. The Government needs to act now to get the men on Manus and those Nauru to a safe place,” said Mr Brassil.

 “We will look at this period of our history with great sadness. However, the Government now has an opportunity to take the political heat out of this issue, to end the suffering, and to give certainty, safety and protection to the people subject to Australia’s offshore policy,” said Mr Brassil.

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