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Australia resists pressure to allow refugees in

4 February 2016 9:33


Australia brushes off demands for the country not to send refugees back to detention camps in remote islands, saying their stay only encourages more asylum seekers to try to reach the country by boat.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday that 267 refugees transferred to the country for medical treatment would be returned to the tiny island of Nauru as soon as they are treated.

He made the remarks after the UN called on Canberra to refrain from the decision and allow the asylum seekers to remain onshore.

Hundreds of Australians protested on Thursday outside the Sydney offices of the Department of Immigration, with more rallies planned in cities across the country.

Church leaders said they would offer sanctuary to asylum-seekers, vowing to defy the government’s harsh immigration rules.

In a statement, the UN said it was “very concerned” for the group facing transfer to the island and noted that most of them are in a fragile physical and mental state.

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