Hundreds of refugees being held at a remote Papua New Guinea detention camp will be moved by October despite uncertainty over a resettlement deal with the United States, Australia’s immigration minister said Thursday.
Canberra sends asylum-seekers who try to enter the country by boat to camps on Nauru and PNG’s Manus Island, with those found to be refugees barred from resettling in Australia.
They are instead relocated to third countries, or resettled elsewhere in PNG.
But the sudden withdrawal from PNG last week of American officials assessing the refugees sparked fears a deal with Washington to take them would not go ahead, particularly after reports earlier this year that US President Donald Trump had described it as “dumb”.
The withdrawal of the Department of Homeland Security officials came days after the US passed its annual 50,000-refugee intake cap. “Our desire was obviously to have them off tomorrow, I want Manus Island to close, we’re still going to maintain Nauru,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News Australia.—AFP