I haven’t seen much news lately about the “dumb deal” that Obama made to admit over a thousand asylum seekers that Australia had been holding for years in offshore detention camps, until this story from Saturday.
Of course, even as President Trump described the deal as a “dumb” one, he went along with it supposedly with extreme vetting determining who we would admit and who we would reject.
This story from the Brisbane Times is mostly about how one Rohingya escaped the detention camp and ultimately made it to Canada where he was granted asylum.
There is a bit at the end updating readers on where the number being sent to your US towns and cities stands today.
‘Never heard of anything like this’: Advocates stunned by Manus escape
Toronto, Canada: Refugee advocates have described a Rohingya asylum seeker’s escape from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Manus Island, and successful resettlement in Canada, as unprecedented and extraordinary.
Jaivet Ealom, 27, has spoken publicly for the first time about his high-risk and secretive journey to freedom in a series of interviews with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Canada.
The department said 699 refugees have been resettled in America under the deal with the US government while another 26 have been resettled in other countries.
In November, Iranian asylum seeker Behrouz Boochani, author of the award-winning No Friend But the Mountains, travelled from PNG to New Zealand for a literary festival and overstayed his visa.
He said he had been offered resettlement in the US but was also open to resettlement in a third country.
Feeling guilty, Australia expats set up support group for the mostly Muslim Australian-rejected asylum seekers as they arrive in America.
From Marie Claire:
Meet the Aussie Expats Fighting to Give Asylum Seekers A Fair Go
When entrepreneur and former fashion designer Fleur Wood heard that 1250 asylum seekers from Australia’s off-shore detention centres were being resettled in the US, she was struck with empathy.
It was 2016 and the men, women and children who had spent years languishing on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island would now be transferred to a country on the other side of the world as part of a deal between the Australian government and the Obama administration. After so much uncertainty and despair, this was their chance to start over – but not without enormous challenges.
Wood began building a network of Australians living in the US who were keen to help out, and in 2018 she co-founded the not-for-profit Ads-Up (Aussie Diaspora Steps Up) with fellow Australian Ben Winsor.
Their aim was to do what the Australian government would not: provide a social network and financial assistance to help refugees begin their lives in a new country.
For volunteers, connecting with refugees provides a chance to make amends in some small way for Australia’s inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. Says Wood, “Regardless of where you stand on the immigration issue, or whether you think these people should be allowed into Australia, you can’t deny the incredible human rights violations that they have suffered.”
The Australian government doesn’t provide regular information about Nauru and Manus Island, but according to the Refugee Council of Australia, 632 people have been resettled in the US.
Last June, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the target of resettling 1250 refugees wouldn’t be met, hindering the Coalition’s goal of closing down the detention centres. US President Donald Trump was also famously scathing of the deal.
But Trump went along with the deal for over 600 detainees (so far) that Australia would not allow on its own soil. 600 plus is just as “dumb” as 1,250 in my view.
The practice of taking another (safe) country’s rejects is outside the normal accepted international resettlement procedure and should never have been encouraged.
See my extensive archive on the ‘Australia dumb deal.‘