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‘58 refugees held in Manus to be resettled in US’

This handout photo, taken by a refugee on Manus, and released to the media by Australian activist group GetUp on November 23, 2017 shows asylum seekers (R) at the Manus Island regional refugee processing center. (Via AFP)

Another group of asylum seekers held in an abandoned Australian detention center on Papua New Guinea (PNG) is scheduled to be resettled in the United States.

The group, comprising 58 asylum seekers, is the third and largest group to be given US resettlement under a refugee swap deal.

The group was to leave for the US on Tuesday. The resettlement ends a three-month hiatus in the swap deal.

Australia agreed on the deal with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, back in late 2016. Under the deal, up to 1,250 refugees held in the Australian camps would be offered residency. In return, Australia agreed to resettle several dozen Central American refugees.

US President Donald Trump, who has strong anti-immigrant sentiments, had described the Obama-era deal as a “dumb” deal; however, he said he would honor the deal despite his early misgivings.

The 58 men departing for the US are mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan kept on Manus Island.

Manus Island is one of two locations — the other being the tiny Pacific island of Nauru — where Australia holds controversial detention centers hosting asylum seekers reaching Australian for “processing.” But they are never allowed into mainland Australia.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has urged Australia in the past to put an end to the “unconscionable human suffering” of the asylum seekers kept at these detention centers.

Some 600 men, who were living in dire conditions in the detention facility on Manus Island, barricaded themselves there after the center was shut down last year. Eventually, after 23 days of suffering, they were forced to move to other centers.

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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has supported the government’s anti-immigration stance.

The controversial policy by which asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australian shores are banished to offshore processing centers is known as “Sovereign Borders.”

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