- Argentina fires head of navy over submarine tragedy
- Egyptian presidential hopeful apologizes to arrested supporters
- Argentina fires head of navy after submarine tragedy
- Canadian police probe mysterious deaths of billionaire pharma couple
- Nazareth Christmas celebrations will be held as normal: mayor
- Libyan coast guard rescues more than 250 migrants trying to reach Ital
- It looks like tax reform is already paying off with the GOP base
- Thousands of Romanians mourn former king Michael
- Sexual harassment allegations swirl around ESPN
- Report: Toronto billionaire and his wife found dead in their home
- Austrian conservatives bring far right into government
- Russian and French foreign ministers discussed situation in Syria
- Australian PM future safeguarded in crucial Sydney by-election
- Palestinian billionaire Masri detained in Saudi Arabia: sources
- Myanmar journalists' group to don black T-shirts over arrest of Reuter
- Dustin Hoffman accused of sexual assault
- Facebook worries it might be bad for you, adds a mute button
- U.S. says did everything possible to help Italy cyber investigation
- Thai tour guide arrested for inappropriate behavior at Buddhist temple
- Roche, Shire court fight escalates over haemophilia drug
Australia, NZ officials discuss screening for Manus refugees - NZ PM
WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand and Australia have begun talks about screening procedures for asylum seekers holding out in a Papua New Guinea detention center, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, amid reports of worsening health conditions there.
Australia has been refusing New Zealand’s offer to take up to 150 of the detainees from the Australian-run camp on Manus Island, but Ardern’s comments have raised speculation that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is ready to accept.
The center was closed almost three weeks ago after PNG’s High Court ruled it was illegal, but more than 400 detainees have refused to leave, citing concerns for their security if they were moved to transit centers as planned.
More than 150 men at the center were seriously ill without access to basic first aid or medicine, said advocacy group Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), which is calling for safe resettlement of the men.
A team from the group, which is based in Australia, visited the center last Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
“The deteriorating state of the men’s bodies was obvious to me as I was shown around,” said Jana Favero, the group’s campaigns director. “This is a medical emergency festering inside a humanitarian crisis.”
Medical conditions requiring urgent care ranged from chest pain and undiagnosed episodes of unconsciousness to infections and chronic diarrhea among others, the group added.
Turnbull has been refusing New Zealand’s offer as he worries asylum seekers could view it as a “back door” to Australia, undermining the country’s tough immigration policies.
Ardern said the conversations were about establishing the screening processes.
“To be clear, we have not started that process,” she told Radio New Zealand. “But I think that certainly we’re a bit further along than we have been before - we haven’t even had officials having those discussions in the past.”
The United Nations, which has warned of a “looming humanitarian crisis”, last week urged Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer to take the men.
Turnbull has insisted the priority was an existing refugee swap deal negotiated last year with former U.S. president Barack Obama.
The men holed up in the camp depend on erratic food supplies smuggled in by supporters. They lack power and running water.
Australia’s “sovereign borders” immigration policy that refuses to let asylum seekers arriving by boat reach its shores has been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups, but has bipartisan domestic political support.
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield. Additional reporting by James Regan; Editing by Jane Wardell and Clarence Fernandez
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.