New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has denied allegations that her country was blocking refugees who wished to travel into the country from Nauru on visitor visas.
Nauru’s president, Baron Waqa, also claimed in an interview with Australian media that he had also personally brokered a deal for New Zealand to accept 80 refugees currently located on the island.
“It’s incorrect to say that there is some kind of agreement for 80 specific individuals to take residence or visit,’’ Ardern told media at the East Asia Summit in Singapore on Friday.
On Wednesday Ardern renewed New Zealand’s offer to accept 150 refugees from Nauru and Manus Island in a meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Singapore.
Michael Carley, Manager Visa Services with Immigration New Zealand, told dpa that a request was made in April 2016 from the Government of Nauru to all Pacific Island Forum countries for governments to recognise refugees travel documents issued by Nauru as Nauruan passports.
“The request did not ask about whether refugees could visit New Zealand on holiday visas. We are not aware of any current visa applications from Nauru-based refugees,’’ he added.