NOOSA – The United Kingdom government is considering asking Papua New Guinea and some other countries to accept asylum seekers.
The Guardian newspaper reports that the UK Foreign Office has been asked to “offer advice on possible options for negotiating an offshore asylum processing facility similar to the Australian model in Papua New Guinea and Nauru”.
The Australian system of processing asylum seekers on the Pacific Islands has attracted criticism from human rights groups, the United Nations and even the UK government itself.
The official documents obtained by The Guardian suggest that the idea that Papua New Guinea might make a suitable destination for a UK asylum processing centre comes directly from the prime minister Boris Johnson.
UK officials warned of “significant political and logistical obstacles” to sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea, pointing out it is 13,600 km away from the UK, has a fragile public health system and is “one of the bottom few countries in the world in terms of medical personnel per head of population”.
One document said bluntly: “Politically, we judge the chances of positive engagement with the [PNG] government on this to be almost nil.”