Australia says US has resettled most of its 1,100 refugees

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The United States is estimated at the beginning of next year to have re-established more than 1.100 refugees under a pact with Australia which was unwillingly honored by President Donald Trump.

The administration of President Barack Obama signed an arrangement in 2016 to host up to 1,250 refugees of Iran, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Myanmar from the Pacific Island camps expelled by Australia.

Trump criticized the agreement as "stupid," but promised to meet the American engagement subject to the refugees' extreme screening.

Since October 2017, the United States has resettled 870 refugees and around 250 more have been temporarily approved to build new homes in the United States, Deputy Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry, Marc Ablong, told the Senate Committee of Australia.

Ablong claimed that although the pandemic interrupted the resettlement over recent months, Australia awaited a resettlement by March or April for the latter of the refugees admitted by the USA.

The relocation arrangement "has been really successful to date," said Ablong.

Around 80 asylum seeker in the impoverished island countries of Papua New Guinea and Nauru is supposed to exit the U.S. deal at the outset.

By prohibiting citizens who came by ship from ever being able to settle down in Australia, Australia deterred asylum-seekers from boating in 2013.

Australia pays Papua New Guinea and Nauru to shelter asylum seekers under human rights organisations' agreements.

The status of asylum seekers who were left in Nauru and in the capital of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, was uncertain, said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Australian support organization Refugee Action Alliance.

"For the population who would be left behind the government may not have a solution," said Rintoul.

The bid offered by New Zealand to welcome 150 refugees a year was not approved although the US still recognizes them.

The government's strategy of refusing relocation to citizens trying to enter Nauru and Papua New Guinea covers those who obtained medical attention in Australia, who then obtained judicial rulings to prohibit them from returning.

Ablong claimed that in Australia, there are officially 1,226 asylum seekers.

Some claim that Australia's relocation arrangement provides for Honduran and Salvadoran refugees to be admitted from a camp in Costa Rica through an American resettlement scheme.