London [UK], Nov. 13 : Australia has announced a landmark "one-off" resettlement deal with the United States for some refugees held at its remote offshore detention facilities on Nauru and Manus Island.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday announced a deal that would prioritize families, women and children for settlement with "the prospect" that some others of the 1,616 people found to be refugees so far in offshore detention would be resettled in the US, reports the Guardian.
"I can now confirm that the government has now reached a further third-party resettlement arrangement.
The agreement is with the United States. It is a one-off agreement. It will not be repeated. It is only available to those currently in the regional processing centres," said Turnbull. Though the details regarding how many refugees the deal would apply is undisclosed. The remaining refugees on Nauru will be eligible for 20-year temporary visa on the island. The US resettlement would be subject to selection by the United States Homeland Security agency. Turnbull said that the scheme would be "administered with" the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Speaking in New Zealand before the announcement, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington had agreed to "consider referrals from [the] UNHCR on refugees now residing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea".
If the government's resettlement plan succeeds, it is likely to reduce the population of Australia's notorious regional offshore detention centres.
Over the last three years, the remote facilities have been plagued by reports of shocking conditions, poor management and deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers.