3 Aug 2013

Australia sends more asylum seekers to Manus camp in PNG

9:49 am on 3 August 2013

Australian immigration officials say they have sent another plane load of asylum seekers to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

39 Iranian men were flown from Christmas Island late on Thursday, arriving Friday morning.

It is the second transfer in two days under Australia's new plan for dealing with asylum seekers.

Canberra and PNG have agreed that all would be asylum seekers arriving by boat will be transferred to Manus and that any granted refugee status would not be allowed to re-settle in Australia.

A spokesperson for Australia's department of immigration and citizenship says there is no cap on the number of people who can be transferred to PNG and transfers will continue on a regular basis.

The department says women, children and unaccompanied minors will be transferred in due course as appropriate arrangements are made.

It says Australia will work with PNG to expand the Manus Island regional processing centre, as well as explore the construction of other regional processing centres in PNG.

Meanwhile, a planned protest in Port Moresby by University of Papua New Guinea students against the so-called PNG Solution for asylum seekers on Friday was stopped by police.

Students had planned to march on the Australian High Commission to protest against the agreement signed between the Prime Ministers of Australia and PNG, under which all boat people arriving in Australia found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG.

However armed police physically blocked access out of the main University campus for the estimated 1,000 to 2,000 protestors.

A tense stand-off ensued at the campus gates before students agreed to retreat, but not before burning an Australian flag and a copy of the refugee resettlement agreement.