Australia to face renewed pressure over offshore processing at Nauru PIF summit

Australia to face renewed pressure over offshore processing at Nauru PIF summit

The leaders of the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum meet on the tiny island nation of Nauru today for their 30th

Protesters from the Refugee Action Coalition hold placards during a demonstration outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, Australia

Photo: Reuters/David Gray

The leaders of the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum meet on the tiny island nation of Nauru today for their 30th annual summit aimed at discussing and addressing regional issues.

Nauru has faced significant pressure over the presence of Australian offshore migration detention facilities it helps maintain. The involvement of about 80 aid groups and NGO’s in the PIF process will likely pressure other Forum leaders to publicly comment, especially as newly appointed Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne attends in her first foreign engagement. This has created a delicate situation for Nauru’s government, which has taken steps to restrict media access and attention to the facilities to avoid upsetting Canberra—one of its main sources of income.

Regardless, there is little prospect of severe criticism towards Nauru from some other Forum nations, particularly Melanesian states like Fiji and Vanuatu. They remain ambivalent about Australian participation in the PIF, excluding it from other regional processes including the Melanesian Spearhead Group and the Pacific Islands Development Forum. However, the public campaign to close the detention facilities will continue pressuring Australia and Nauru to repatriate individuals to Australia or other safe countries. Canberra is expected to maintain its commitment to offshore processing, regardless of criticism, especially as new PM Scott Morrison and other cabinet members are opposed to asylum seekers reaching the mainland.

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