Australia

More Australia asylum seekers blocked from resettlement

File photo: a fishing boat carrying Vietnamese asylum seekers nears the shore of Australia"s Christmas Island on 14 April 2013 Image copyright AP
Image caption Asylum seekers leaving Indonesia by boat will not be allowed to resettle in Australia

The Australian government has made it more difficult for refugees to enter the country.

Asylum seekers who registered with refugee agency UNHCR in Indonesia on or after 1 July 2014 will no longer be eligible for resettlement.

The change is part of attempts to strip people smugglers based in Indonesia of a market.

The changes should cut the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia, said Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Indonesia serves as the embarkation point for boat travel to Australia by asylum seekers mainly from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Sri Lanka.

"While nine of 10 months of 2014 have passed without a successful people-smuggling venture to Australia, we know smugglers continue to encourage asylum seekers to travel illegally to Indonesia for the purpose of seeking resettlement in Australia,' Mr Morrison said in a statement.

"These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum," he said.

Australia will continue to resettle some refugees who registered with UNHCR in Indonesia before 1 July 2014. However, there will not be as many places allocated, meaning the waiting period in Indonesia to be resettled in Australia will be much longer.

Mr Morrison said the government did not support asylum seekers travelling illegally to transit countries in search of more favourable resettlement destinations.

In 2014-15, Australia's Humanitarian Programme will provide 13,750 places. These will include 11,000 places for people overseas, nearly all of whom will be in countries of first asylum.

Mr Morrison said the Indonesian government had been briefed on this decision.

Refugee advocate and lawyer David Manne tweeted that the policy would leave people "trapped in limbo or forced back into danger".

"As Aus stops resettlement of #refugees from Indonesia we must ask: what now will be the fate of an unaccompanied refugee child stuck there?" he wrote.

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