Vigils held to end of offshore detention

Six people have died while being held at Nauru or Manus (Pixabay)

Vigils calling for an end to Australia's offshore detention of refugees and asylum-seekers have been held around the country as the policy reaches its fourth year, AAP/News.com.au reports.

A crowd of about 200 people gathered in Sydney's Hyde Park last night calling for an evacuation of all offshore detention camps in one of more than 50 vigils around Australia organised by activist group GetUp.

"To the people on Manus and Nauru, we remember and we will not stop until every one of you is safe," GetUp human rights director Matthew Phillips told the crowd.

The crowd held candles, carried banners and waved plaques before taking a minute's silence for the six people who had died while being held at Nauru or Manus camps since the policy began.

For those who attended it was also a chance to raise awareness of the children who may have spent all their life in detention, Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children strategy group member Wendy Power told AAP.

"These children deserve a future. They deserve all the services that our grandchildren have," Ms Power, a grandmother of four, said.

In 2013, former prime minister Kevin Rudd banned refugees who arrived by boat from being resettled in Australia, striking deals with the Papua New Guinea and Nauru governments to resettle refugees there.

The Manus Island centre in PNG is to close later this year, with plans to resettle people found to be genuine refugees under an agreement with the United States or in PNG itself. Others will be returned to their homelands.

Australia intends to keep the Nauru centre open.

FULL STORY

National vigils to end refugee detention (AAP/News.com.au)

RELATED COVERAGE

Imran's story: arriving on Manus was 'one of the most excruciating days in my life' (Sydney Morning Herald)

Offshore detention costs taxpayers $5bn over four years (The Guardian)

Australians paid $5 billion for offshore processing since 2013 (SBS News)

'Enough is enough': human rights group calls for end to Manus, Nauru (Sydney Morning Herald)

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