Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says that, effective immediately, all refugees who arrive in Australia by boat will be resettled in the South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea.
Rudd and PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill signed an agreement in the Australian east coast city of Brisbane Friday that will permit Australia to deport refugees to its impoverished neighbor.
Rudd told a news conference that boat people will be sent to PNG's Manus Island for processing and, if found to be true refugees, will be resettled in that country.
The new policy is an attempt to deter people from war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan from risking their lives traveling to Australia in leaky boats originating in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Hundreds have drowned attempting the journey. As recently as Tuesday, the Australian navy rescued 144 people from a boat that capsized in rough weather. Four people died.