Weekly media wrap - 21 March 2016

The Australian Parliamentary Budget Office found the government would save 2.9 billion dollars over four years if it adopted the Greens’ policy to shut down detention centres and bring asylum seekers to the mainland for processing in the community. It warned, however, that the policy change could alter numbers of asylum seekers arriving by boat, and therefore the potential savings.

Indonesian foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, expressed the hope that Australia and other countries would assist in resettling refugees in Indonesia. There are currently around 14,000 asylum seekers and refugees in transit in the country, but Indonesia says it lacks the capacity to provide long-term solutions. The statement came in the leadup to this week’s Bali Process Ministerial Conference, a regional forum co-chaired by Indonesia and Australia.

In a visit to Australia, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to negotiate a deal which would see Iranian asylum seekers whose refugee claims are rejected repatriated to Iran. The opposition insisted that safeguards be in place to ensure the safety of those returned.

Asylum seekers arriving in Greece will be sent back to Turkey in a deal agreed upon by EU leaders. In return for taking refugees, Turkey can expect ‘reenergised’ talks on its EU membership and 3 billion euros to aid resettlement. UNHCR stated the deal breaches the rights of asylum seekers under European and international law.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Flippo Grandi announced he will chair a meeting on March 30 to ask the international community to take 10 per cent of all Syrian Refugees. He stated that this did not require full resettlement for the 400,000 refugees, but that some countries could offer temporary jobs, scholarships or humanitarian visas to ease the pressure on neighbouring countries. Four million Syrians have fled the country since the civil war began five years ago.