Morrison Government must accept New Zealand offer to provide safety for refugees due to COVID-19 crisis

New Zealand granting Behrouz Boochani asylum is a strong reminder to the Morrison Government that there is a viable solution to 7 years of failed asylum policy.

Across Australia, the Government is detaining thousands of refugees in private hotels as well as detention centres.

The Morrison Government also continues to detain more than 370 people in detention offshore in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

A recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Papua New Guinea prompted PNG Prime Minister James Marape to warn that PNG’s health system would not “have the capacity to deal with a widespread outbreak”.

In Australia, the Government now has a humanitarian and public health crisis on its hands.

People seeking asylum are at high risk in the pandemic and recession, trying to survive without any income support while losing work.

And people are detained in crowded, unventilated detention facilities, exposed to high risk of COVID-19 transmission from rotating staff and movement of people between centres.

The Morrison Government has an opportunity to resettle people in New Zealand to solve both these public health and economic crises and avoid further years of high human and financial cost to Australia.

Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, Jana Favero said: “Every day at the ASRC we see people deteriorate mentally and physically because they cannot find work to support themselves and their children, and are at constant risk of homelessness.”

“ASRC casework and legal clients in detention centres are at high risk of infection and severely distressed because they cannot protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19 transmission via staff and other people detained in crowded centres.”

“We call on the Morrison Government to urgently accept New Zealand’s offer of resettlement and solve the humanitarian and public health crisis resulting from 7 years of policy failure that has seen more than 13 people lose their lives.”

David Burke, Legal Director of Human Rights Law Centre said: “In offering Behrouz Boochani permanent protection, New Zealand has shown compassion and humanity. It’s a stark contrast to the cruelty of the Morrison Government. New Zealand has repeatedly offered to provide a safe place for refugees to resettle.”

“Bizarrely the Government keeps stubbornly refusing, choosing to ignore a solution that would end a policy that has intentionally ripped people’s lives apart.”

“After seven long, painful years, the Morrison Government must accept New Zealand’s offer and let people rebuild their lives in safety.”


For interviews contact:

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre – Marcella Brasett
0411 026 142

Human Rights Law Centre – Michelle Bennett
0419 100 519

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