SYDNEY - The premier of Western Australia state, a member of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's Liberal Party, has offered to accept refugees from Australian-funded detention centers amid growing concern about conditions for the 1,350 people held in the camps.
Under Australian law, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to asylum seeker camps on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru or to Manus Island off Papua New Guinea. They are never eligible to be resettled in Australia.
Australia and Papua New Guinea said on Wednesday that they would close the Manus Island facility, but gave no timeline, and did not say where the people held there would be sent.
Harsh conditions and reports of rampant abuse at the camps have drawn wide criticism at home and abroad. Australia says its hard-line policy is needed to stop deaths at sea during the dangerous boat journey from Indonesia to Australia.
There are no plans to close the Nauru camp, which is under renewed scrutiny after a newspaper published leaked documents detailing reports of more than 2,000 incidents of sexual abuse, assault and attempted self-harm, many involving children.