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The Turnbull government is keeping mum on reports it is considering sending refugees on Nauru and Manus Island to the distant central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan.
The government is searching for places that will agree to resettle more than 1500 asylum seekers currently living in the Australian detention facilities in the south Pacific.
The government’s so-called Cambodian solution has been a failure, settling just a handful of refugees since the deal was inked last year. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed this month that the government has been seeking to negotiate deals with a number of other countries, including the Philippines.
Now Kyrgyzstan – a remote and rugged landlocked former Soviet satellite state – is the latest country being considered as a possible resettlement destination, particularly for Hazara Afghans, according to News Corporation.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann refused to confirm or deny the reports on Saturday.
“I’m not going to speculate about an unconfirmed story,” he told Sky News.
“We are having conversations with other countries to support our offshore processing arrangements and when we’re in a position to make relevant announcements, no doubt the Minister for Immigration will do so.”
Comment is being sought from Mr Dutton.
Queensland Labor MP Terri Butler says the opposition is open to considering any resettlement options but called on the government to make its intentions clear.
“What Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton need to do is come clean with the Australian people about how they’re going to settle people on Nauru and Manus Island,” she said.
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