9 Aug 2013

Asylum-seekers now asking for their money back

1:04 pm on 9 August 2013

Asylum-seekers in Indonesia have confirmed that some of them are asking people-smugglers for their money back because of Australia's new refugee policy.

Australia has signed a memorandum of understanding with Papua New Guinea to send asylum-seekers to PNG to be processed and resettled there if they are found to be genuine refugees.

News of this has reached Cisaura, in West Java, home to some of the thousands of asylum-seekers stuck in Indonesia, and the ABC has learnt some have not only asked for their money back from people-smuggling agents but have succeeded in getting a refund.

Asylum-seekers tell the ABC it is mainly Iranians who are asking for refunds and are reportedly preparing to return to their country, not willing to take the risk of ending up in PNG.

But the policy is still causing confusion among Afghan asylum-seekers, some of whom say they will still try and come to Australia by boat, because people-smugglers have told them that they will have to be accepted by Australia, as their cases are considered to be more compelling.

The Australian government says the new policy is having an impact.

On Tuesday, mmmigration minister Tony Burke watched as PNG foreign minister Rimbink Pato signed the memorandum of understanding at a small ceremony in Port Moresby. Mr Burke says there can now be no doubt about the legally binding nature of the agreement between the two countries.