Red Cross welcomes NZ Manus Island resettlement offer

Red Cross welcomes NZ Manus Island resettlement offer
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer told Newshub there needs to be immediate action taken inside the detention centres. Photo credit: Getty

The international head of the Red Cross says human rights concerns within Australia's offshore detention centres need to be urgently addressed, and is welcoming New Zealand's offer to resettle refugees.

Peter Maurer has been President of the International Committee of the Red Cross since 2012, and is in New Zealand to meet officials in what is his first visit here in the role.

Mr Maurer spent the morning discussing a range of issues with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, including the current situation on Nauru, and Manus Island.

His comments follow those form from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said he will support sending Nauru refugees to New Zealand, as long as the "back door" to Australia is closed.

The back door Mr Morrison is referring to is a proposed Bill from 2016 which would prevent any asylum seekers who arrived in Nauru in 2013 from applying for an Australian visa.

Healthcare professionals have described the mental health conditions of many on the island as "devastating". In addition, nearly 6000 doctors and medical students signed and handed the Australian government a petition demanding the children be removed due to deteriorating physical and mental health conditions.

Following his meeting with Prime Minister Ardern, Mr Maurer told Newshub there needs to be immediate action taken inside the detention centres.

"I have also been clear in my public statements, that there are humanitarian concerns in the offshore centres, which need to be addressed urgently."

Australia reconsidering the offer has raised more questions for the New Zealand government, with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters concerned that stopping the refugees from entering Australia will create a situation which could see two classes of citizenship.

"That is a serious consideration that may be overlooked here, we don't believe in second-class citizenship," Mr Peters told reporters earlier this week.

The organisation is known for maintaining a neutral position on political issues across the globe, and this one is no different. Despite that, Mr Maurer says he is pleased with New Zealand's offer to resettle 150 persons from detention centres.

"Any countries with an ability to offer some pragmatic steps, in order to address those situations is certainly welcome, but it is up to the Australian government of course to decide what kind of offer, and what kind of framework is acceptable."

Newshub.

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