The New Zealand government said on Thursday it would take a total of 450 asylum seekers in Australia or its offshore detention centre on Nauru in the South Pacific over the next three year.
Australia’s hardline immigration policy requires asylum seekers intercepted at sea trying to reach Australia to be sent to offshore detention centres. They are told they will never be settled in Australia and many have spent years in limbo.
“We are pleased to be able to provide resettlement outcomes for refugees who would otherwise have continued to face uncertain futures,” New Zealand Minister for Immigration Kris Faafoi said in a statement.
New Zealand will take 150 refugees per year for the next three years and they will follow the same screening and Refugee Quota Programme assessment process that other refugees coming to the country must meet, the statement said.
Australia had previously turned down New Zealand’s offer to take the asylum seekers as it was negotiating with the US to resettle some of them.
The US has taken in just under a thousand refugees from Australian processing centres, while 112 people remain on Nauru, according to January data from the Refugee Council of Australia.
Other asylum seekers are in detention in Australia.
Rights groups have condemned Australia’s treatment of refugees and conditions in its detention centres, but Australia defends the approach as it believes it deters people from making dangerous sea journeys to reach its shores.