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Australia to free some detained asylum seeker children

Published on Aug 19, 2014 12:24 PM

SYDNEY (AFP) - A number of children of asylum seekers held in Australian mainland immigration detention centres are to be released, officials said on Tuesday, although hundreds of others will remain locked up in offshore camps.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said "a large number" of the children and their families would be given bridging visas allowing them to live in the community, attend school and have access to health and financial support. The programme only applies to children being held in community detention or in mainland detention centres and who arrived in the country before July 19, 2013.

"We are confident that we can move a large number of them off community detention into the bridging visa programme," said Morrison, who has come under fierce criticism from rights groups for not doing enough to care for asylum seeker children.

"We will transition as many of those as we can onto this other arrangement that will not only put them on a residence basis, at least temporarily, while their cases are being assessed, but also result in a reduction of cost to the taxpayer."

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