With NZ offer rejected, Manus refugees doubt USA resettlement prospects

Refugees protest on Manus Island with Australian Senator Nick McKim

They include Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Afghans, Iranians, Sri Lankans and other nationalities, and are nearly entirely men.

Australian authorities want the men moved to a transit center elsewhere on the island at the start of a process the asylum seekers fear will result in them being resettled in PNG or another developing nation.

New Zealand's Labor Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to urge her center-right Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, to let her country accept some of the refugees held on Manus Island and another Australian-run migrant camp on Nauru.

In his retirement, the Grand Chief says he is at liberty today to speak about the miserable manner in which Australia is trying to offload the Manus Island Refugees.

For four years, Australia has paid Papua New Guinea, its nearest neighbour, and Nauru to house asylum seekers who attempt to reach the Australian coast by boat.

Grand Chief Somare said he had raised this issue of inhumane treatment while in parliament and was accused of being party to the Australia/PNG plan to set up the Manus Regional Processing Centre.

The alternative accommodation being proposed is not finished or adequate to meet their needs, including security, he said.

Food, water and power has been cut off to the site, which is also a Papua New Guinea naval base.

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Canberra has been forced on the defensive by the move from Wellington's new government, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying Australia would instead prioritise a similar deal with the USA to resettle refugees in America, despite slow progress.

"Australia's policy of deterrence by rescuing people at sea, mistreating them and abandoning them has become a notion of cruelty".

Refugees at the detention centre had told The New Daily ahead of the meeting between the two leaders that New Zealand was their best hope of resettlement. "They are starving and their bodies are getting weak".

Ms Ardern acknowledged on Sunday that the situation was becoming acute but understood Mr Turnbull's position to first pursue the USA deal because it would help substantially more people than New Zealand's small offer could.

Ms Ardern offered to accept 150 refugees from the offshore detention camps, similar to an offer made by former NZ Prime Minister John Key in 2013.

Australia has struggled to move the refugees to third countries such as Cambodia or PNG.

"Australia blocking but has no right to say no", he wrote on Twitter.

Australia entered into an agreement during Barack Obama's administration for about 1,200 of those detained to be resettled in the U.S.

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