Asylum seekers in PNG say they feel ‘abandoned’ by Australia’s change in offshore detention policy

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One of them is Zabihullah Hussaini, a 29-year-old Hazara who was transferred to Manus Island Detention Center in 2013 and after six years of detention was released in Port Moresby.

“I was 21 when I came to Australia, now I’m 29,” he told AAP.

“The news (of the PNG shutdown) surprised us all. Every Afghan here was involved.

“Hearing (…) that Australia can’t support us anymore was like putting salt on our wounds. Some are breaking point here. Afghan man says he wants to end life because ‘there is nothing to hope for. “

Afghan citizens have priority for offshore processing, an Australian border forces spokesperson told AAP in a statement on Saturday.

“Applicants must meet visa criteria and meet public interest character, safety and health criteria,” the spokesperson added.

“All humanitarian visa applications are assessed on an individual basis. Processing times may vary depending on the applicant’s particular circumstances, location (inside or outside of their home country) and ability to travel, provide documents or access government Australian officials. “

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Pending an Australian decision, Hussaini applied for asylum in the United States, but it was rejected in 2018. He has since applied to enter Canada.

He doesn’t feel safe and now “feels abandoned” in PNG.

The Taliban chased Mr. Hussaini’s family from their traditional home in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, where his cousin was also killed.

“I am very worried about where to find sanctuary for them, they are not safe. The Taliban are killing us because we are Hazaras. There is nothing I can do to help. I am trapped here. I feel like I am. a failure.”

Taking back control of Afghanistan in August after more than two decades of conflict, the Taliban were accused of the “brutal slaughter of Hazara men” in the southern province of Ghazni by a recent Amnesty International report.

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The border forces spokesman said “no Afghan visa holder currently in Australia will be invited to return to Afghanistan when it would be dangerous.”

While Australia will end its offshore program in PNG, processing will continue in Nauru.

“Anyone who tries to enter Australia illegally by boat will be returned or sent to Nauru,” Home Secretary Karen Andrews said.

The Refugee Council called on the governments of New Zealand, the United States and Canada to assist with the resettlement of the remaining refugees.

“It is laughable of the Australian government to claim that it no longer has any responsibility towards the people it transferred to PNG,” Council spokesman Paul Power said.

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