Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

NZ PM Criticises Australia Over Manus Crisis As Situation Escalates

NZ PM Criticises Australia Over Manus Crisis As Situation Escalates

But Ms Adern's criticism of Australia's handling of the refugee crisis on the island - which she has described as unacceptable - has prompted a warning from New Zealand's opposition for her to tread carefully.

Ten days ago Australia officially withdrew support for the prison camp it has maintained on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island since 2012.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was expected to have a more substantive meeting with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull about the offer in the Philippines this week, where they are both attending the East Asia Summit.

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday urged Australia to accept New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 refugees from an abandoned Australian-run detention centre in Papua New Guinea, as about 450 men remain barricaded inside without food or water. "I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play", she said.

"He'll know the offer was genuine, it was genuine when it was first made by another Government and another leader, and it remains genuine now".

"I'll be raising with Prime Minister Turnbull, as I have consistently done, that we have grave concerns over the situation on Manus Island, but also for the refugees on Nauru, and that our hope is to lend a hand as far as we are able in helping resolve the situation", she said.

Turnbull this month rejected the refugee resettlement offer from his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, preferring instead to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former US President Barack Obama a year ago.

The approximately 420 asylum seekers and refugees choosing to remain at the now-closed Manus Island processing centre have been without food, water or medical supplies for nearly two weeks.

'We urge Australia to reconsider this and take up the offer, ' Nai Jit Lam, deputy regional representative at the UNHCR told Reuters.

Mr Trump has called it a "dumb deal" but Mr Turnbull said it is Australia's priority over New Zealand's offer. "I'm interested in the fastest route".

Peace Action Wellington says refugees have been indefinitely detained by the Australian government in illegal camps on Manus Island and are now being forcibly moved into even more precarious situation.

The goal of the protest was to prevent anyone inside from leaving, Peace Action Wellington spokeswoman Emma Cullen said.

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