Pacific News Minute: US-Australia Deal To Relocate Refugees On Nauru Hits Snags

Nov 29, 2016

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Earlier this month, Australia announced an agreement to relocate refugees from its off shore detention camps to the United States. Unanswered questions included when, how many, and whether the deal would survive the change of administration in Washington. Now, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, new snags have appeared.

The Republican chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees want to know the refugees countries of origin, which they said could include countries of national security concern. Iran and Sudan, for example.

They want to know why the number of refugees the U.S. might accept is classified, and why congress was never informed of the talks until they read about the deal in the newspapers. A letter to the Obama administration from Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa and Representative Bob Goodlatte of Virginia goes on to say the deal "begs the question why Australia and other countries refuse to admit these individuals."

Australia diverts everyone who attempts to enter the country illegally by sea to camps in the Island Nation of Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. The policy and the camps have been denounced as inhumane by UN Agencies and human rights organizations.

Reporters are rarely granted access, but Laura Jayes and a cameraman from Sky News Australia visited Nauru earlier this month, and she reports some refugees say they don't want to take the American deal. Jayes said that one Muslim told her he didn't want to go to Donald Trump's America.

Radio New Zealand quotes refugee advocate Ian Rintoul as saying that opinions among the refugees are mixed, "One of the problems," he said, "is that there is precious little detail about what the US resettlement means for re-united families, how quickly the whole thing is going to proceed and whether there are any options."