23 Mar 2014

PNG wants help resettling refugees

6:22 pm on 23 March 2014

Papua New Guinea's prime minister Peter O'Neill says he wants other Pacific countries to help with the resettlement of refugees Australia is holding on Manus Island.

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Photo: AAP / Dept of Immigration and Citizenship

After a meeting with the PNG leader, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that resettlement of those refugees can begin as early as May or June.

Both prime ministers say that nearby countries will be recruited in this process but they gave no details.

The ABC reports PNG will not accept all the asylum seekers currently held at Manus Island detention centre and no other country is offering to resettle them, despite efforts by Australia's Federal Government to convince other Pacific nations to strike a similar deal.

Mr O'Neill said he is prepared to take only some of the asylum seekers and other countries in the Pacific are also signatories to the UN Refugees Convention and he would expect those countries to take some asylum seekers and help to resettle them as well.

New Zealand agreed a year ago to take just 150 of Australia's surplus refugees each year.