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Peter Dutton Confirms Manus Island Will Close, But Refugees Won't Come To Australia

Australia and Papua New Guinea are "working towards" closing the Manus Island detention centre.

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None of the 854 asylum-seekers detained on Manus Island will be resettled in Australia, immigration minister Peter Dutton has said, after announcing that the island's Australian-run detention centre will close.

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Dutton announced on Wednesday that the Australian government had reached an agreement with Papua New Guinea to close the Manus Island camp.

Papua New Guinea prime minister Peter O'Neill met Dutton in Port Moresby on Wednesday and it's understood the pair agreed the centre would close.

There's no detail on when or how Manus will be shut down – the two governments only said they are "working towards" a closure.

But Dutton has confirmed that none of the 854 men kept at the centre will be resettled in Australia. Instead they'll be transitioned into PNG or return to their countries of origin. The government is also in the process of negotiating with third countries.

"Our position, confirmed again today with PNG, is that no one from Manus Island Regional Processing Centre will ever be settled in Australia," Dutton said.

Australia will provide the PNG government an undisclosed but "substantial" amount to assist in the transition process.

The Australian government has always maintained the men were the responsibility of PNG as Australia had paid PNG "a lot of money" to house them.

Peter O'Neill called for the centre to close three months ago, after PNG's supreme court found the detention centre was unconstitutional.

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"A series of options are being advanced and implemented," O'Neill said. "It is important that this process is not rushed but carried out in a careful manner."

He's previously said PNG doesn't have the resources to resettle detainees and that any solution would have to take into account "the interests of the people of PNG and the wellbeing of asylum-seekers and refugees".

"These men should immediately be moved to Australia or a safe third country, not simply shunted down the road to a transit centre or moved to Nauru or Cambodia," said Elaine Pearson, Australian director of Human Rights Watch.

Eoin Blackwell / AAPIMAGE

"Nearly a thousand men on Manus have already lost three or more years of their lives locked up in limbo for no good reason. They’ve endured dirty, cramped conditions, inadequate medical care and violence. Finally, it is time to let them move on with their lives in safety and dignity.”

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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