Australia Offering Refugees up to $9,300 to Return Home
As immigration becomes increasingly problematic for the Australian government, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is launching a program that would pay refugees to return home. The payments vary depending on country of origin and the Australian government would pay for the return trip.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Abbott's government is concerned with huge numbers of refugees waiting for entry into Australia in detention centers in Oceania -- particularly, in Nauru and on Manus Island. The numbers are so high that the government is hoping many will prefer to return to their home countries than continue waiting in line to be allowed legally into Australia. The return trip would take them out of their detention center and to the Hideaway Hotel in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, before being flown back home. It is an entirely voluntary process, according to the government.
The government is launching the program with the help of the International Organization for Migration, which would fund their stays in Port Moresby. The government would offer them extra payments to return, however. By country, the newspaper breaks down the offers in Australian dollars:
Lebanese asylum seekers are offered $10,000 to voluntarily return to Lebanon. Iranians are offered $7000, Afghans $4000 and Nepalese, Burmese and Sudanese asylum seekers are all offered $3300.
The Abbott government has spent the past year working to overhaul the nation's immigration system. In May, the government announced that it would create a new border protection agency run by civilian administrators that would use resources from customs and immigration, streamlining spending and helping fend off the growing budget crisis in that nation. The group includes the Australian Border Force, which would handle illegal immigration and potential terrorist infiltration.
The camps developed to handle the significant influx of immigrants made headlines earlier this year when the Australian Human Rights Commission released a report in which it noted that children trapped in these centers were "visibly distressed" and referred to the camps as "hell," demanding to leave. The need to vacate the camps and provide more comfortable detention centers promoted the solution to pay illegal refugees to send them back home rather than detain them indefinitely.
The new camps were challenged in Australian courts by an Iranian refugee who demanded to be allow into Australia. The nation's highest court ruled having an intermediate country to process refugees, as is the case with Papua New Guinea, does not violate any immigration laws.