15 Jul 2017

Claim US resettlement for Australia's offshore detainees is fake news

11:20 am on 15 July 2017

A journalist detained on Manus Island says the prospect of US resettlement for Australia's offshore detainees is fake news.

The Manus Island detention centre.

The Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

Behrouz Boochani was responding to reports that the US has exhausted its annual refugee quota.

More than 1600 refugees imprisoned by Australia on Manus and Nauru are hoping to be resettled in the US through a deal struck between Canberra and president Barrack Obama.

President Donald Trump, however, has halved the US refugee quota to 50,000 with the next annual intake not beginning until October.

Mr Boochani said the US resettlement deal was already clouded with uncertainty and now appeared to be part of a cruel game.

"It's clear that the deal with America is like a tool that the Australian government is using to destroy the refugees' lives," said Mr Boochani.

"Unfortunately America is helping Australia in this policy and they are putting people through a fake process and are playing with them and the media," he said.

"Perhaps America does not know what its role in this is, but it is helping a government that has proved it doesn't care about human rights."

Behrouz Boochani at the Manus Island detention centre.

Behrouz Boochani at the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Supplied/ Behrouz Boochani

Last month, Mr Boochani said that 470 out of about 700 Manus refugees had had first interviews with US officials.

He said about 40 refugees had completed the vetting process with medical checks and were told they would be sent to the US within weeks.

"When the deal was first announced it brought people some hope," he said.

"But day by day that hope has diminished, and now this news brings more disappointment and doubt."

A Rohingya refugee Imran Mohammad said news of the quota's exhaustion made detainees feel dead.

"It defuses the spark of hope that we try to hold on to," said Mr Mohammad.

Imran Mohammad

Imran Mohammad Photo: Supplied

"It has been four years of waking up to such devastating news and it makes us suffer from chronic and hopeless depression," he said.

"The uncertainty of our future has always been the same. Sadly, it is getting worse now."

Daniel Webb, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the Australian government planned to bulldoze the Manus detention centre by 31 October.

Detainees are under pressure to move to an open facility in nearby East Lorengau, but Mr Webb said there was nowhere safe for the men to go.

"Every single man, woman and child on Manus and Nauru has already lost four years of their life. Our government must urgently evacuate every single person trapped on Manus and Nauru to safety."

Mr Boochani said refugees were afraid that if they moved to East Lorengau they would be forced to settle in PNG.

"PNG is not a place where the refugees can be safe and start a new, simple life."

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