The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has accused the Australian government of reneging on a “clear understanding” that some refugees detained offshore who have close family ties in Australia could be resettled in the country.
In a statement on Monday, the commissioner, Filippo Grandi, said the United Nations agency had agreed in November to help with the relocation to the United States of refugees in detention centers on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and on the island nation of Nauru after Washington agreed to take in hundreds of refugees being held by Australia at those centers. But the agency did so, Mr. Grandi said, on the condition that some refugees would be resettled in Australia.
“We agreed to do so on the clear understanding that vulnerable refugees with close family ties in Australia would ultimately be allowed to settle there,” Mr. Grandi said.
[UN Says Australia Reneged On Pledge To Accept Some Refugees, by Jacqueline Williams, NYT, July 24, 2017]
But despite the claim by the UN that a written agreement existed which they could not release, the Ozzies were quite adamant, no refugees allowed!
As recently as Sunday, the Australian immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said refugees would “not be coming to Australia.”
In a statement on Monday, a spokeswoman for the immigration department said: “The position of the coalition government has been clear and consistent: Those transferred” to regional processing centers “will never settle in Australia.”
One applauds the stand by Australia, but fobbing off their problem on the United States is not acceptable, and the Aussies should be held accountable to their own standard when they hold us to that same standard.
President Trump should have stuck to his guns on his initial reaction and pledge to reject those refugees. And this new revelation about Aussie double dealing should be the basis for Trump to order the Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) not to return to the Australian camps on Nauru and Manus Island. At this moment, Trump had the courage to withdrawal those officers from the Islands once the 50,000 cap on refugees was reached, but Australia is claiming that the officers will return once the new fiscal year starts in October to renew processing.
Mr Dutton, who will soon take responsibility for a newly announced super portfolio overseeing Australia's domestic security, said he would close the centre "tomorrow" but was at the mercy of an American timetable.
An agreement was struck between Australia and the United States in the dying days of the Obama administration to resettle up to 1250 of the asylum seekers detained on the island.
Donald Trump has said he would honour the deal but the president has slashed the US's overall refugee intake, which has bumped the Manus Island resettlement to October 31.
'We have been caught up in the US process, they have a quota each year," he told Sky News.
[Peter Dutton Vows Manus Island Will Close In October Despite Donald Trump Refugee Intake, by Amy Remeikis, SMH, July 20, 2017]
The end of the fiscal year, the insults from Turnbull, and the news that Australia is reneging on a commitment to the UN should be sufficient political cover to end the agreement, if there ever was a need for cover. American national interests should have been enough reason for ending the bad deal. National interest is enough reason for Australia to refuse refugees, why not the United States?