Tenth group of refugees fly out of PNG to be resettled in US

A protester during the Evacuate Manus and Nauru Protest - 'Five Years Too Long, 12 Deaths Too Many' protest earlier this year. Source: AAP

PORT MORESBY, 29 AUGUST 2018 (SBS) – Refugee advocates say 13 more refugees have been flown from Papua New Guinea to be resettled in the United States.

The group of refugees boarded a flight from the Papua New Guinea capital of Port Moresby on Tuesday, according to the Refugee Action Coalition.

The group said the included two Pakistanis, two Tamils, five Afghans, and four from Myanmar.

The people were transferred from the detention facility on Manus Island to Port Moresby in December 2017.

The latest group of resettlements, bring the total number of refugees settled in the US to 378.

Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said more than 40 more refugees are waiting in Port Moresby for resettlement in the US.

It has been more than five years since asylum seekers were indefinitely detained on Manus Island and Nauru.

As of July, more than 1500 people remain in detention, including 120 children.

The Obama administration agreed in 2016 to resettle 1250 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

The process of resettlement in the US was initially delayed as US authorities carried out vetting procedures.

The Australian government has acknowledged that several hundred asylum seekers will remain in detention, even after the full quota of people are resettled in the US.

Ian Rintoul said the mental health of detainees is deteriorating, with a recent case of an Iraqi refugee attempting to douse himself in petrol and light himself on fire.

Intervention by other refugees in the East Lorengau Transit Accommodation compound thwarted the plan and prevented the outbreak of a fire.

“For this refugee, there is a very immediate need to get him off Manus, so he can get the help he needs to recover from five years of hopelessness,” Rintoul said.

“What we do know is that all the people on Manus need safety and security, that the US deal is not going to provide [that].”

“The Australian government is unlawfully keeping them on Manus, when they should be free.”

The PNG government said Australia has the legal responsibility for asylum seekers in offshore detention facilities, a position which the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has also supported.

Nauru has said it will not permanently resettle any of the refugees.

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