1 Oct 2015

Fiji ponders possible mass arrival of asylum seekers

3:47 pm on 1 October 2015

The Fiji Immigration Department says it needs policies and procedures on how to accommodate and facilitate the mass arrival of boat people or asylum seekers.

Its director Nemani Vuniwaqa has told FBC News this is necessary for the border control agency to be up to par with its obligations.

He says Fiji has to put in place policies on how to accommodate them in terms of resources, medical care and education.

He says no mass arrival are foreseen as yet - however that doesn't mean Fiji can't be prepared for such a scenario.

Asylum seekers.

Asylum seekers. Photo: Barat Ali Batoor

Vuniwaqa also says as a signatory to various international conventions including those on human rights, Fiji is obliged to treat asylum seekers with dignity and respect.

In the Pacific, Nauru and Papua New Guinea host asylum seekers in detention camps run by Australia.

Two years ago, New Zealand passed a law to cope with a possible mass arrival of asylum seekers, defined as being a group of more than 30 people.

The law allows for their detention for up to six months, with the New Zealand prime minister, John Key, saying discussions have been held with Australia to send them to Canberra's centres in Nauru or Papua New Guinea.