• Australia churches to offer sanctuary to asylum-seekers

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    SYDNEY: Australian church leaders Thursday said they would offer sanctuary to asylum-seekers facing removal to a remote Pacific camp, vowing to defy the government’s harsh immigration rules. The asylum-seekers, who were brought to Australia from Nauru mostly for medical reasons, number more than 260 and include 37 babies born in the country and 54 other children, advocates said. The Anglican Dean of Brisbane, the Very Reverend Peter Catt, said the churches were reinventing the “ancient concept of sanctuary” by opening facilities such as St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane to the asylum-seekers. Asylum-seekers, including children, who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to off-shore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they can be held indefinitely while refugee applications are processed. They are blocked from being resettled in Australia even if found to be genuine refugees.

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