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3 Feb, 2019 03:08

Last children held in notorious Aussie-run Nauru detention camp for refugees to be resettled in US

Last children held in notorious Aussie-run Nauru detention camp for refugees to be resettled in US

The four remaining children in a refugee camp in Nauru are preparing to fly to the US, the Australian PM has said. They would be resettled as part of a deal struck under Barack Obama and slammed by Donald Trump as “dumb.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the four minors were the last child asylum seekers living in the Nauru camp. Their looming move, Morrison said, is a proof that his government’s approach to implementing Australia’s hardline immigration policy bears fruit. The PM’s Liberal government changed the migration policy, saying the Labor Party, which steered the country from 2007 to 2013, had made many mistakes.

“We have got all the children Labor put in detention centers out, and we have shut down all the detention centers Labor opened, including on Christmas Island,” Morrison, who became the third Australian PM in six years in August, said.

The children’s resettlement was made possible thanks to the refugee-swap deal agreed by former US President Barack Obama and former Australian PM Malcolm Turnball. Pursuant to the deal, the US was to take up 1,250 of people held in Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea in exchange for Australia accepting Honduran and Salvadorian refugees from Costa Rica.

Trump, an immigration policy hardliner, has strongly objected to the deal, calling it “dumb”. The deal made headlines in August 2017, when it was brought up in a heated telephone conversation between Trump and then-PM Turnball, the transcript of which was leaked to the media. During the call, the US president said that he would “hate taking these people,” as they were “bad” and were rightfully “in prison right now.”

Despite all of the US President’s grievances, Vice President Mike Pence at the time said that the US would abide the deal out of “enormous importance of the historic alliance” with Australia. Pence said that all refugees considered for resettlement would be thoroughly vetted by the US security agencies.

Also on rt.com Australian asylum system ‘explicitly designed to inflict damage, amounts to torture’ – Amnesty

The US has so far accepted some 440 refugees, rejecting at least 185, half of them Iranian nationals.

While there are no more child asylum seekers in Nauru, about 450 adults still remain there in addition to 600 at the Manus Island detention center. Both centers have become symbols of rampant human rights abuse, being compared by human rights advocates to brutal prisons where rejected asylum seekers are forced to survive in abhorrent conditions.

Nauru was nicknamed the “island of despair” by the Amnesty International in its 2016 report over alleged mistreatment of refugees happening there, including systematic denial of health services and psychological intimidation.

People held at the male-only Manus detention facility staged numerous protests over the lack of adequate healthcare and power and water shortages.

The centers are the most visible parts of the Australia’s controversial offshore resettlement policy. The country pays the Pacific nations to hold the refugees that try to arrive to the country by boat until they can be resettled elsewhere or qualify for the US program.

Some 2,450 asylum seekers were housed in the camps on Manus Island and Nauru in 2014. The Liberal government has significantly reduced the number of the detention facilities, closing 19 of them.

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