US to Take Manus Is, Nauru Refugees Under Aust deal
Australia is on the brink of a deal to send hundreds of refugees held on Manus Island and Nauru to the United States. Government ministers remained tight-lipped yesterday when The Australian newspaper reported the two countries were poised to announce the pact. But several sources confirmed to the ABC that Australia and the US would sign an agreement which would resolve the fate of almost 1300 asylumseekers on Manus Island and Nauru, some of whom have been facing years of uncertainty. Under the deal, the US would resettle detainees who have been processed on the two island facilities and have been deemed refugees. An announcement was expected today (Sunday). At this stage it was not clear whether the immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island would be closed after the deal is signed. It was also unclear what would happen to detainees who were not found to be owed protection. According to the Department of Immigration, there were 396 people in Nauru and 873 on Manus Island on 30 September. Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton ruled out resettling any refugees in countries other than the US until Parliament passed legislation preventing anyone who tried to reach Australia by boat ever being granted an Australian visa. That legislation, which would apply to any attempt backdated to 13 July 2013, passed the lower house this week in the face of fierce opposition from the Australian Labor Party, but has not yet gone through the Senate.
The US presidential election has also injected uncertainty into negotiations. RNZI