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September 18, 2021
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US Third Country Option For Refugees on Nauru and Manus Island

Following the announcement by the Australian Government on the “one off deal” with the Obama Administration on the US being a 3rd country option for refugees on Nauru and Manus island, a legal representative of those on Manus Island say they must work fast to ensure this deal becomes a reality for the refugees.

” If it is genuine, we are pleased, in fact the general atmosphere at Lombrum and East Lorengau (in Manus) is good, it’s happy,” Ben Lomai of Lomai & Lomai law firm said today.

Two things are weighing heavily on Ben Lomai and his clients’ minds.

Firstly, Donald Trump’s strong stance on immigrants, something he was very vocal on during his campaign. His inauguration as the US president will be on January 20th next year, giving this deal around 2 months to work.

“It is up to the Australian Government and the Obama Administration to make this work,” Lomai said.

The other issue is the priority given to women and children on this deal. As all women and children are located on Nauru, they will be given first preference before those on Manus.

There are currently over 650 refugees who have been processed on Manus island awaiting resettlement. Among them less than 20 have indicated they will settle in PNG, while others have said they will wait for a 3rd country option.

Last week Lomai filed fresh applications on behalf of the asylum seekers with the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea. This time they are seeking three specific court orders.

1. For the asylum seekers to be returned to Australia
2. A third country option to be available to them and
3. Compensation

If this deal between the Australian government and the Obama administration does eventuate, they will only pursue compensation.

However more details are yet to be released on this deal. Ben Lomai has heard that US officials will be in Manus in a matter of days to assess the situation but does not have any more details on how the resettlement will actually work.

He is not the only one in the dark, while the Papua New Guinea Immigration & Citizenship Services Authority confirms that they are aware of the deal, they are also not able to confirm details of the deal.

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