We at RISE (Refugees Survivors & Ex-Detainees) are dismayed and angered at the announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that Australia will no longer accept asylum seekers for settlement in Australia. Rudd’s decision to settle all asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea in exchange for increased aid money to the former Australian territory is a disgusting illustration of how refugees and asylum seekers have been used to buy votes in a political race to the bottom.
Offshore processing has proven to be a human rights disaster in the past. Now Rudd wants to punish even more asylum seekers by settling them to a country struggling to maintain infrastructure, safety and support for its current population. Rudd wants to expand the offshore processing site on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island so that it can house 3000 asylum seekers. Manus barely has capacity to support the 200 people currently there – asylum seekers sleep in hot tents that frequently get flooded during high rains. Medical facilities are inadequate and the incidences of self-harm and attempted suicide have continued unabated since the Manus Island detention camp was opened in 2012.