Australia, US reach migrant deal
SYDNEY: Refugees held on remote Pacific camps after trying to reach Australia by boat will be resettled in the US in a “one-off” deal seen as a breakthrough that could see the controversial facilities closed.
Canberra sends asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to detention facilities on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru, and block them from resettling in Australia even if found to be refugees.
“The arrangements with the US will offer the opportunity for refugees, both on Nauru and Manus, to be resettled,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in Canberra.
“It is a one-off agreement. It will not be repeated ... Our priority is the resettlement of women, children and families.”
Successive Australian governments have sought to stem waves of boat migration by people from war-torn Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East, using harsh policies including turning back the vessels, and strict secrecy about operations on the high seas and at the remote camps.
Although the latest policies by the current conservative government largely stopped the arrivals, conditions in the camps have been widely criticised by refugee advocates and medical professionals.
They say some asylum-seekers suffer from mental health problems due to their prolonged, indefinite detention. – AFP