Tthe governments of Australia and New Zealand announced that 450 refugees from Australia’s regional processing program could be relocated to New Zealand, almost ten years after the deal was first offered. What does the agreement mean and why so long?
Who is covered by the deal?
The arrangement applies to refugees in Nauru or those “temporarily staying in Australia under regional processing arrangements”.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that there were 112 refugees in Nauru and another 1,168 in Australia who would be eligible for resettlement under the agreement.
It does not apply to those “engaged in other means of resettlement in third countries”, such as the United States, or those who remained in Papua New Guinea after Australia terminated its offshore processing arrangements there.
This was reported yesterday by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). New Zealand worked separately on the resettlement of refugees in Papua New Guinea.
The New Zealand Immigration Minister’s Office said it was “unaware of any other separate arrangements at the moment”, but that New Zealand would continue to work with UNHCR to coordinate its refugee program, which could include refugees from Papua New Zealand. Guinea.
How did the deal go?
The original proposal was made by then-New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in 2013, but Australia has not accepted it yet.
The Coalition Government of Australia had repeatedly argued that the agreement could encourage asylum seekers to travel by boat to Australia.
New Zealand Immigration Minister Chris Faofoi said Australia had approached New Zealand about the proposal in 2020, and the agreement was signed by the Cabinet in Wellington a month ago.
In Australia, independent Senator Jackie Lambie demanded a loan to secure the dealstating that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had pledged to do so in exchange for her vote to repeal the “mediation” law, which has facilitated the transfer of refugees and asylum seekers from Nauru and Manus to Australia for treatment.
Does the deal mean more refugees for New Zealand?
Up to 150 refugees a year will be able to travel to New Zealand over the next three years.
These figures will be taken from the existing annual New Zealand refugee quota, which was increased from 1,000 to 1,500 in July 2020.
Last year, New Zealand accepted only 463 refugees, and each of the last three years it has taken less than its quota.
The Green Party of New Zealand and Amnesty International have said that refugees accepted under the deal should be in addition to the existing quota.
Will the resettled refugees be able to travel to Australia?
Concerns that displaced refugees may apply for New Zealand citizenship and then return to Australia have long been a point of comment for the Australian authorities. New Zealanders are usually eligible for a special category visa to visit, study, stay and work in Australia indefinitely.
Faafoi said any decision to travel to Australia is made for Australia, but any refugees arriving in New Zealand will eventually receive the full rights and responsibilities of New Zealanders.
Australian authorities have said that refugees who have relocated under the agreement will be eligible to apply for a visa to enter Australia on a short-term or temporary basis, even if they acquire New Zealand citizenship.
What support will be provided to refugees?
The Faofoi office said the refugees who would be admitted under the agreement would “receive the necessary support, as is customary in New Zealand, if it offers refugees a new beginning and a new future in New Zealand”.
The New Zealand Red Cross, which is a major provider of joint refugee resettlement programs in the country, said the organization “would like to see more support because we know there are problems.”
“Every person who comes has a different story and different problems. Many people have been waiting for relocation for a long time, ”said national migration manager Sue Price.
What does the deal mean for future offshore detentions?
Thursday’s announcement did not touch on Australia’s future use of offshore processing centers for refugees and asylum seekers.
The office of the New Zealand Immigration Minister declined to say whether they had received any assurances in this regard as part of the deal.
У September last yearthe Australian government has signed a new agreement with Nauru to continue the “durable form” of offshore processing on the island.