News Donald Trump refugee deal comments spark anger among Manus refugees and residents
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Donald Trump refugee deal comments spark anger among Manus refugees and residents

Manus Island
The UNHCR says dealing with refugees on Manus Island and Nauru should be a priority for Australia. Photo: AAP
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The refugees Australia sent to Manus Island say they are not surprised President Donald Trump has expressed doubts about a plan to resettle them in the United States.

The men detained on Manus Island, along with the residents of Manus, are worried the deal will fall through.

They are calling for Australia to step in and end the uncertainty about where the refugees will go.

Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani has always doubted the US deal would work.

“It was clear that Donald Trump cannot accept the refugees from Manus and Nauru because of ideological reasons,” he said.

“He’s trying to build a wall. How can he take the refugees from Australia?”

Boochani said some refugees would actually be happy if the arrangement collapsed, because the continuing uncertainty was causing them enormous stress.

“The deal is a big torture on people. Every day we hear good news and then bad news,” he said.

“I don’t know what will happen for us.”

The announcement of the US deal in early November brought relief to the more than 500 men on the island whose refugee claims have been accepted.

Many of them are refusing to resettle in PNG because it has proved difficult and occasionally dangerous for the small number that have already tried.

Iranian refugee Amir Taghinia said the refugees were confused and angry.

“I was very disappointed … I am going insane, because what the Australian Prime Minister is saying is totally different with what I saw on the Twitter,” he said.

Mr Taghinia said Mr Trump’s reaction to the deal confirms what many refugees already believe — that Australia is just trying to placate the people sent to Manus and Nauru.

“I am not very surprised because I knew this is a game to keep people quiet for a while,” he said.

The Member of Parliament for Manus, Ronny Knight, said Mr Trump’s doubts have also come as no surprise to the residents of Manus Island.

“It’s just disappointing and I feel that the refugees themselves — it will be another blow for them,” he said.

Mr Knight said people on the island were becoming increasingly frustrated about the ongoing presence of the asylum seekers.

“It doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look good at all,” he said.

“The Manus people are getting very, very tired about the situation.
“It’s just another log of wood on the fire and something has to be done quickly.”

The US Government has already engaged contractors to pre-screen the refugees, and US immigration officials are scheduled to visit Manus Island sometime in the coming months.

If Mr Trump cancels the deal, it would be much harder for the Papua New Guinea Government to meet its commitment to close the Manus Island detention centre.

MPs and others have said it is time for Australia to end the uncertainty by taking the asylum seekers back.

– ABC