World Bulletin / News Desk
Australia is considering striking a deal to send up to 1,500 unwanted refugees to Kyrgyzstan, it has been reported.
The unconfirmed report in The Australian newspaper Saturday claims that Kyrgyzstan is on a list of potential destinations for refugees presently held at processing centers on the islands of Nauru and Manus in the South Pacific.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told local broadcaster Sky News on Saturday that he could not confirm or deny the claims.
"We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we're in a position to make relevant announcements, the minister for immigration will do so," he said.
Critics have pointed out the dangers of resettling refugees in what they call an underdeveloped and insecure country.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australia itself warns travellers to Kyrgyzstan to be wary of "the threat of violent crime, gangs, robbery, terrorism, militants, civil unrest, treacherous roads, endemic diseases, bad hospitals, strict laws, police harassment, earthquakes and avalanches".
Green Party leader Richard di Natale was quoted by Sky News as calling the move "ridiculous".
He said Australia should choose the "most logical, humane and economically responsible option, which is to ensure we process people here in Australia and, if they are found to be genuine refugees, that they are settled here".
Australia's hardline policy denies resettlement to all asylum seekers arriving by sea, even when they are found to be genuine refugees.
Earlier this year, four refugees from Nauru were sent to Cambodia in an A$55 million ($40 million) deal with Australia.
Despite heavy criticism of the deal with Cambodia, Australia was reported earlier this month to be preparing to sign a similar agreement with the Philippines.