Announcement of New Zealand refugee resettlement deal welcome, but hundreds will be left behind

Media Release

24 March 2022

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) welcomes the announcement of an agreement with New Zealand to resettle refugees who were subjected to Australia’s offshore detention regime.

However, this agreement is not enough, as hundreds of people seeking asylum will be left behind, including those on PNG.

The deal will see 150 refugees who were held in offshore detention resettled in New Zealand every year for three years, prioritising those on Nauru, referred by the UNHCR and without other pathways to resettlement.

There are still an estimated 1,384 people seeking asylum and refugees subjected to offshore detention since 2013 who are either in Australia or held offshore. There is an estimated 216 split between Nauru and PNG, while 1,117 are in the community in Australia and 51 are still held in detention centres onshore.

The 450 places offered through the New Zealand deal is positive but there will still be around 900 without a clear resettlement option.

The Morrison Government must provide a clear resettlement plan for all those subjected to offshore detention and provide access to mainstream social services during this process. The 51 people held in onshore detention must also be immediately released into the community.

Thanush Selvarasa, human rights activist and refugee detained on Manus, Mantra and MITA, released on 28 Jan 2021 said: “This is a very important day in our lives, we have been suffering for 9 years, this is our future and dream. It has been about to happen for a long time, but accepting this deal is wonderful. It is too late, we have been suffering for 9 years but it is a good decision. Permanent visas are very very important we can’t see our family right now, we need to rebuild.”

“They also have to involve PNG people and people transferred under the Medevac law, we are all in the same situation. Everyone needs permanent resettlement. Thank you to everyone who has done this.”

Ramsiyar Sabanayagam, human rights activist and refugee detained on Manus, Mantra and Park Hotel, released on 21 Jan 2021 said: “I am really so happy, we have been waiting for this opportunity. We can rebuild our lives and end detention. I am so happy about that. It is a good situation. For a long time, we have been waiting for a visa. We have a lot of brothers here who need permanent resettlement. With this deal, we can have our families with us and rebuild.”

“Please accept this deal for everyone. We need to find a solution soon, we have already lost 9 years. we can’t get this back, but we can rebuild.”

Jana Favero, Director of Advocacy and Campaigns at ASRC, said: “This deal is positive, but it was initially offered nearly a decade ago in 2013, and it should have been accepted back then. There has been 9 years of harm and wasted lives because this deal was not accepted when first offered. This deal will also still leave behind hundreds of people who sought safety in Australia. The Morrison Government must offer a permanent resettlement plan for everyone who was subjected to offshore detention.”


Media contact: Sam Brennan 0428 973 324 or

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