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Australia reopens asylum seeker detention in Papua New Guinea

Published on Nov 21, 2012 1:55 PM

CANBERRA (REUTERS) - Australia sent the first group of asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea's remote Manus island on Wednesday, adding a second Pacific nation to its toughened refugee policy designed to stop a steady flow of refugee boats.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen also announced new rules for asylum seekers who make it to Australia's mainland, saying they could be kept on rolling temporary visas for up to five years, even if they are accepted as refugees.

Australia revived its so-called "Pacific Solution" refugee policy in August, announcing it would send boat arrivals to detention on Manus Island and Nauru, where they could wait up to five years with no guarantee of final settlement in Australia.

The policy was aimed at stopping a flood of refugee boats from Indonesia to Australia's Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island, after a series of boat disasters which have killed more than 1,000 people since 2001. But more than 3,000 asylum seekers have arrived by boat since the new policy was unveiled.

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