Non-refugee asylum seekers on Australia's Manus Island detention center to be sent home: minister

CANBERRA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Asylum-seekers in Australia's Manus Island detention center who are not genuine refugees will be sent back to their country of origin this year, Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed on Thursday.

The controversial detention center is set for closure by October 31, but as 2,000 people are still being held at the facility. Dutton has said any non-genuine refugees would be sent back to their homeland, in a major crackdown set to affect hundreds of asylum-seekers who illegally fled their countries in the hope of settling in Australia.

Earlier this year, the Australian government struck a deal with the then-Obama U.S. administration to take some of the legitimate Manus Island refugees before the center closes, but any illegal asylum-seekers will be returned to their country of origin.

"There will be some who've been found to not be refugees," Dutton told local radio station.

"They are economic migrants essentially, not refugees by any stretch of the imagination, they have to go back home. They have to go back to their country of origin."

Of the 2,000 people who remain on the island, 850 are men, but only 400 of those are deemed to be legitimate refugees.

Under the deal with the U.S., some of the eligible refugees will be taken by the U.S., while other legitimate refugees who are not selected will be allowed to stay in Papua New Guinea (PNG) - which was agreed to by the PNG government after consultation with Australia's previous Labor government.

"(But) for a lot of refugees, we're hoping they will be eligible for the arrangement to go the U.S., but that's up to the U.S.," Dutton said.

[ Editor: Xueying ]


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