Deathscapes

Which Way 18e - The U.S. Deal

Deathscapes

The People-Swap: US Deal

[imagecaption] SBS Dateline ‘Swapped from Manus to Missouri‘, 2018. Since its announcement, the US swap deal has been clouded in secrecy with many casting doubt on whether it would ever come to fruition. When Donald Trump was elected as US President, twitter commentary and a leaked telephone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull caused great emotional turmoil for the refugees who were hopeful of finding a way out of their island prisons. There are a few cases where people do not want to go to the U.S. as they have family in PNG or Australia. A Rohingya refugee named Alex Rashid, for example, wants to settle in PNG permanently with his wife and two children, however he has been unable to secure citizenship. There are families who have been split among Australia, Manus and Nauru who have been presented with impossible choices–none of which include a viable prospect of reunion. There are also men in PNG who have been given negative refugee status determinations after they refused to participate in the PNG assessment system but for whom it is not safe to return to their country of origin. This group of people are currently ineligible for resettlement in the U.S. however they cannot resettle in PNG or be deported. [/imagecaption]

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The deal between Australia and the U.S. stipulates that up to 1250 refugees from Manus and Nauru could be resettled in the U.S. More than 9 months after the deal was announced, the first group of 54 refugees landed in the US in September 2017. In January 2018 the second group of 58 men left Manus Island while in the following months a third group of 18 men left Manus, a fourth group of 22 people, a fifth group of 35 people and a sixth group of 29 people left Nauru.

While people continue to wait for resettlement that might never eventuate, they have been subjected to ongoing violence, particularly the men in Lorengau, PNG, following the violent, forced removal of people into the community from the Lombrum camp. A report by Amnesty International and research conducted by Human Rights Watch shed light on these dangerous conditions. Similar reports have previously been made about Nauru.


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