All refugees from Iran and Somalia on Nauru, who had appointments this week with US officials, have been rejected for resettlement in America, an advocate says.
The Refugee Action Coalition’s Ian Rintoul said about 150 refugees had been scheduled for appointments between Monday and Wednesday.
All those from Iran and Somalia, including families with children and single women, were rejected, he said.
“The US resettlement deal is finally revealed to be a farce. Iranian refugees account for around a third of all refugees on Nauru. It is just not possible for all Iranians to be rejected on any legitimate basis.”
Some of the refugees were told that they had been rejected for security reasons, Mr Rintoul said.
“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.”
A refugee from Iran attempted suicide on Nauru yesterday after being rejected by the US, Mr Rintoul said.
The middle-aged woman had to be pulled from the ocean by other refugees, he said.
One-hundred and fifty-five refugees from Nauru have so far been accepted into the US since the resettlement deal was announced in late 2016.
About 1000 are estimated to remain on the island, living in camps and the community, where many have been exiled for five years by Australia.
This week, the Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton said apart from the US and Malaysia there were no other third countries where Australia’s offshore detainees could be settled.
The ABC reported the opposition Labor party had called on the government to establish another resettlement deal but Mr Dutton said that was unlikely.
“Let’s be realistic when Labor talks about some mythical third country, it doesn’t exist,” he said.
The Opposition urged the government to consider New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees, but Mr Dutton argued that as New Zealanders could enter Australia without a visa, taking up New Zealand’s offer would encourage more people smuggling to Australia.
But the shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann disagreed.
“If the government was able to negotiate conditions for the US deal, they should be able to negotiate them for any deal with New Zealand,” Mr Neumann said.
“Mr Dutton knows that as minister he can prevent any person from any other nation from travelling to, or remove them from, Australia based on character grounds in the Migration Act which contains specific provisions related to people smuggling.”