News / Asia

UN Criticizes Australian Offshore Asylum Camp

A Sri Lankan asylum seeker who was rescued from a troubled boat adrift trying to reach Australia looks out from a porthole of a rescue ship upon arrival at Teluk Bayur port in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, January 2, 2013.
A Sri Lankan asylum seeker who was rescued from a troubled boat adrift trying to reach Australia looks out from a porthole of a rescue ship upon arrival at Teluk Bayur port in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, January 2, 2013.
Phil Mercer
The United Nations has released a highly critical report of Australia's offshore immigration detention center at Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is calling for an end to Canberra’s policy of automatically detaining asylum seekers.

The Australian-run immigration facility in Papua New Guinea was reopened at the end of last year to stop a steady flow of asylum seekers reaching Australia by boat.

Representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees spent three days studying the Manus Island facility in January. Their report criticizes the cramped conditions inside the camp, stressing that the isolated facility was potentially damaging for children.

The United Nations opposes offshore detention. Richard Towle, the UNHCR's regional representative says that among other things, it is difficult to meet international standards in remote parts of the South Pacific.
 
“The key failing is that there are in place no legal frameworks for the processing of refugee claims," says Towle.  "If the sole purpose of transfer from Australia to Papua New Guinea was to process people, one would expect there'd be some kind of process in place for people when they get there. These 221 people are being held in mandatory closed and indefinite detention, which is a very serious violation of international law.”

Refugee advocates say the Manus Island center houses around 250 asylum seekers, including more than 30 children.  Approximately one-half are families from Sri Lanka, while others have come from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rights groups have also condemned conditions at another Australian-sponsored camp on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

Following an inspection in December, Amnesty International said it had found what it called “a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions” that were creating an “increasingly volatile situation.”

The Australian government has said it will continue to improve facilities at its centers on Nauru and Manus Island.

Ministers insist the offshore camps are deterring asylum seekers from making the perilous sea voyage to Australia.  The alternative is to expand existing facilities on the mainland or build new camps, which the government is keen to avoid in an election year.

Immigration is likely to be a divisive issue when the country goes to the polls in September.  Conservative critics of the Labor government accuse it of losing control of Australia’s maritime borders, while the Green Party, which is allied with the Labor government, says that Canberra’s treatment of vulnerable asylum seekers is inhumane.  
Australia grants protection visas to about 13,000 refugees each year under various international treaties.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid