New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern slams 'unacceptable' Manus Island situation

Frederick Owens
November 14, 2017

The relationship between New Zealand and Australia looks set to face another test, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern meeting her counterpart Malcolm Turnbull to again push for a resolution to the crisis on Manus Island.

The lawyer Ben Lomai, who is bringing the case on behalf of Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee inside the camp, said the the proposed takeover of the detention centre brought with it the risk of extreme violence.

The approximately 420 asylum seekers and refugees choosing to remain at the now-closed Manus Island processing centre have been without food, water or medical supplies for nearly two weeks.

New Zealand has had on the table for several years an offer to take 150 refugees from Australian-run offshore detention centres each year.

On Monday evening, refugee activists in Sydney took over the stage at a Wesley Mission human rights lecture - featuring guest speaker ex-Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock - to hold up banners saying "Evacuate Manus Now" and '#manus is a human rights crisis' and to call for the Australian government to act on the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Manus Island. "I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play", she said. These refugees and asylum seekers have the right to be evacuated and resettled somewhere where seeking asylum is acknowledged and they will be welcomed into the community.

Ms Ardern said it was faster to organise the logistics of any deal with Australia.

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Speaking at the APEC Summit in Vietnam on Saturday local time, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said the unfolding stand-off between refugees and PNG immigration officials was unacceptable.

"It continues to be the easiest option is to go through Australia given the screening that's already occurred of those refugees". I'm interested in the fastest route, ' she said.

"What Australia is doing is inhumane and that is why we are here locking down the Australian High Commission".

Mr Peters has made it clear New Zealand's offer also includes refugees and asylum seekers in Australian detention centres in Nauru.

According to an Australian journalist, Ardern and Turnbull "chatted informally" early Monday morning (NZT) following her remarks, although it was unclear whether Manus had been mentioned.

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