Mon. Aug 15th, 2022

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Picture for read more article 'Questions on whether Australia can relinquish responsibility for asylum seekers in PNG'

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

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

“News (about the PNG closure) surprised us all. Every Afghan here was worried.

“Hearing … that Australia can no longer support us was like sprinkling salt on our wounds. Some are at the breaking point here. An Afghan man says he wants to end his life because there is nothing to hope for.”

Afghan citizens are being prioritized for offshore processing, an Australian Border Guard spokesman told the AAP in a statement on Saturday.

“Applicants must meet the visa criteria and meet criteria of general interest for character, safety and health,” the spokesman added.

“All humanitarian visa applications are assessed individually. Processing times may vary depending on the applicant’s special circumstances, their location (whether inside or outside their home country) and their ability to travel, deliver documents or access Australian government officials.”

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Image for read more article 'Concern for refugees in PNG when offshore detention agreement with Australia ends'

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

He does not feel safe and now feels abandoned in PNG.

The Taliban have driven Hussaini’s family out of their traditional home in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, 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. I can do nothing to help. I am trapped here. I feel like I am a failure . “

After regaining control of Afghanistan in August after more than two decades of conflict, the Taliban have been accused of “the brutal massacre of the Hazara men” in the southern Ghazni province by a recent report by Amnesty International.

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Picture for read more article 'Asylum seekers in PNG' scared and devastated 'after allegedly being held in gun'

The Border Patrol spokesman said “no Afghan visa holder currently in Australia would be asked to return to Afghanistan while it would be unsafe”.

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

“Anyone trying to enter Australia illegally by boat will be returned or sent to Nauru,” Interior Minister Karen Andrews said.

The Norwegian Refugee Council has called on the governments of New Zealand, the United States and Canada to help resettle the remaining refugees.

“It is ridiculous for the Australian Government to pretend that it no longer has any responsibility for people it transferred to PNG,” said Council spokesman Paul Power.

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