Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban is influencing Australia’s offshore processing system – with all Iranian and Somali refugees rejected for resettlement in the US.
The third version of Donald Trump’s travel ban bars or limits entry to citizens of five Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – as well as North Korea. The ban’s constitutionality is currently being considered by the supreme court but is currently in effect.
About 150 refugees held in offshore processing on the island of Nauru have appointments with US officials this week, where they will discover final assessments of whether they have been accepted by America. So far, every Iranian and Somali applicant has been rejected.
On Manus Island, the refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said all Iranians and Somalis were fearful they would be rejected.
“There is huge worry in Nauru & Manus about US deal,” he wrote. “Many Iranian & Somali refugees in Nauru given rejection notices from US. It means US considers the countries banned. Its time for that the Home Affairs minister takes responsibility & makes his plan clear.”
The Australian government has promoted the US resettlement deal as its solution to offshore processing but, for more than a year, it has conceded that the US deal cannot clear the camps.
Thus far, 85 refugees have been resettled from Manus and 162 from Nauru. US officials hope to finalise the resettlement deal by October, when its annual resettlement quota restarts.
More than 500 refugees are expected to be left on the island of Nauru even if the US fulfils its entire commitment of 1,250 places.
Only a handful of refugees have been resettled in Papua New Guinea and the Nauru government has consistently refused to permanently resettle any refugees. Both the PNG and Nauru governments have consistently maintained those refugees not accepted for resettlement remain the responsibility of Australia.
“It’s Australia’s responsibility to move them out,” the PNG prime minister, Peter O’Neill, said.
The Nauruan president, Baron Waqa, said: “They can’t stay on Nauru forever, we’ve made that clear right from the start.”
Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said the US resettlement had been “revealed to be a farce”.
“Iranian refugees account for around a third of all refugees on Nauru,” he said. “It is just not possible for all Iranians to be rejected on any legitimate basis.
“While Trump says there is no official ban on Iranians and Somalis, it is now very clear that the US administration is imposing an unofficial ban. It is not a coincidence that all Iranians are being rejected.
“Turnbull’s phone call to Trump is coming back to haunt him. Turnbull told Trump that he didn’t have to accept anyone; now Trump is taking him at his word.”
Over the past five years, Australia has approached dozens of countries – including Kyrgyzstan – offering millions of dollars and other inducements in exchange for resettling some refugees from Australia’s camps. But the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said this week there were no “third country” resettlement options beyond the US and the Cambodian deal, which has resettled only two refugees at a cost of more than $40m.
h/t Refugee Resettlement Watch who concludes:
What you can do!
You have probably done it already, but it can’t hurt to let the President know again that he can still shut this down! He is setting a terrible precedent with this highly unorthodox arrangement for refugee resettlement, plus he isn’t keeping us safe by simply blocking the Iranians and Somalis while taking the Afghans, Pakistanis and Rohingya Muslims!