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Thursday, November 22, 2012
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Assylum Deal

Australia sends boatpeople to Papua New Guinea

Australia yesterday said it had begun sending boatpeople to Papua New Guinea as it admitted that its offshore refugee processing system was straining to cope with the number of recent arrivals.

Canberra announced in August that refugees arriving by boat would be sent to two Pacific islands and almost 400 are now held on the tiny nation of Nauru, despite Amnesty International's criticism of conditions there as "completely unacceptable".

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said the first transfer of asylum-seekers to PNG went ahead Tuesday, with four children and 15 adults belonging to seven families from Sri Lanka and Iran sent to Manus Island.

But he acknowledged that, given the thousands of boatpeople who have arrived since the government announced its new policy, it would not be possible to transfer them all to Nauru or Manus Island in the immediate future.

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