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2021: An Open Letter to Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

12 June 2021

Dear Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

We, the asylum seekers and refugees sent by Australia to the Pacific Islands of Nauru and Manus, PNG would like to thank the people of New Zealand, yourself and all of the former leaders who have demonstrated a heart of compassion towards us.

We, the authors of this letter, are wasting away in meaningless monotony in hotels and detention centres in Australia. We are all shadows of our former selves and all dread waking because every single day feels like a year to us. We have nothing to do. We have few exercise opportunities and have had limited access to visitors in the last few years. Watching movies, TV shows, or playing games etc on our phones is now barely entertaining after eight years of detention. Nothing we do can make the hours go faster or the days end quicker.

We are encouraged by the faithfulness of New Zealand’s consistent promise to us. In 2013 you promised to receive us. If the world was a fairer place we should have begun to settle among you from 2014 through to 2015. You told the world that the settlement deal was still on the table in 2016 and have continued to offer this solution of safe settlement ever since. We sincerely thank you for your kindness and mercy.

We thank you for showing strength and for wanting to welcome us as future citizens of your beautiful nation. We are not criminals as some suggest. We sought refuge from Australia, a signatory nation of the Refugee Convention according to international law and numerous treaties. You have demonstrated strength and courage and honour in your intentions and we greatly appreciate that. We will do our very best to make you proud of us.

We need to recover from these years. We need an opportunity to heal and grow strong again. We are eager to work and thrive; to build businesses and have families. We know that the path to recovery will be long but we promise to do everything in our power to be a blessing to the nation of New Zealand and every other place that generously opens their hearts to us.

Many from our number have been warmly welcomed by the USA, Finland, Canada, France and Norway. Others are in community detention in Australia or doing their best to thrive, by working hard in Australian communities. Those working are on six monthly, regularly renewed, Bridging Visas. Some of our friends are still in limbo in Manus and Nauru, hoping for resettlement options. Our cohort have suffered greatly for many years and we want to be free to live normal healthy lives again.

We hope and pray that the door to resettle among you will open and once again we thank you for your steadfast and genuine concern for us and our situation.

May God abundantly bless your nation.

Yours sincerely

Signed below by the still detained refugees evacuated to Australia for urgent medical care from offshore detention centres in Manus and Nauru. We are currently in Melbourne.

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