Fifth group of refugees leaves for US

Refugees being taken from Nauru.

A group of 29 refugees, including eight children, became the fifth group of refugees to escape detention when they left Nauru on March 4 for resettlement in the US. The group consisted of Sri Lankan, Rohingyan and Afghan families, and single men from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Since the US resettlement deal began in September a total of 139 refugees have left Nauru and 85 have left Manus Island.

Although Australian Border Force officials have said no nationalities are banned from US resettlement, the Sydney-based Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) has pointed to the “coincidence” that no Iranians, Somalis, or Sudanese refugees have been accepted for US resettlement.

US officials are expected to remain on Nauru for several more weeks, but no new appointments for vetting interviews are being scheduled. Under the deal Australia reached with the Barak Obama administration, the US agreed to take up to 1250 refugees from the offshore detention centres.

RAC spokesperson said: “Despite the glaring problems with the US deal, Malcolm Turnbull returned from his trip to the US with no better undertakings from [Donald] Trump about the numbers or timing of refugee resettlement in the US.

“Turnbull has also repeated that New Zealand’s offer to accept 150 refugees a year will not be considered until the US deal ‘has run its course’. This is a formula that will condemn hundreds on Nauru and Manus Island to an uncertain fate, without safety or security.”

And still Australian courts insist the Australian government must bring sick refugees, unable to be treated in Nauru, to Australia.

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