Refugee Council of Australia
Nauru, long part of Australia's offshore detention policy, from the air

Australia’s offshore processing regime: The facts


The Cambodian deal

On 26 September 2014, the Australian Government agreed to pay the Cambodian government $55 million to resettle refugees from Nauru.

However, Cambodia agreed to take only those who agreed to go. Only seven did. Most of them have now left Cambodia.

The Australia-Cambodia refugee deal (Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Law)

From Nauru to limbo: the anguish of Australia’s last asylum seeker in Cambodia (The Guardian, 2019)

Resettlement to the US

In September 2016, the US Government agreed to allow 1,250 refugees from Nauru or Manus Island to resettle there. However, the US was not required to take that number.

Those found to be refugees could be resettled. However, they would have to go through more interviews and checks by the US Government.

UNHCR played a role in helping resettlement. It later revealed it had done so on the understanding that it could put up compelling cases for resettlement in Australia, but that Australia went back on this understanding. This was denied by the Australian Government.

Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, Australia–United States Resettlement Arrangement (24 March 2020)

This process has taken a long time. The first refugees were resettled in the US in September 2017, and the process is still continuing.

Before the US deal was announced, the government introduced a law to try to ban people who had come by boat since July 2013 from ever entering Australia, even on a valid visa. This was not passed, but has been re-introduced in 2019 and is still before Parliament.

Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2016 (Parliament of Australia)

Migration Legislation Amendment (Regional Processing Cohort) Bill 2019 (Parliament of Australia)

Resettlement to other countries

Although New Zealand had offered 150 places for refugees in 2013, this offer has never been accepted. New Zealand has also made the offer directly to Nauru, but this has not been accepted. New Zealand has, however, given $2.7 million to help care for those on Manus Island.

Some people have, however, managed to be resettled in other countries. This has sometimes happened because of family ties, and sometimes by the efforts of others. Several high profile cases included:

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