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Australia-US refugee deal close to ending

Australia US refugee deal
As of January, nearly 1000 refugees have been sent from Australia to the US for resettlement. Photo: AAP
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Australia is expected to complete its resettlement deal for 1250 refugees with the United States by the end of the year.

Nearly 1000 refugees have already been resettled in the US, as of January this year, under the deal, a Senate estimates committee has been told.

A further 230 people had received notification of their provisional approval for resettlement but had yet to leave, Home Affairs officials told the hearing on Monday in Canberra.

The refugee resettlement deal was signed in 2016 between then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and then-US president Barack Obama to transfer 1250 asylum seekers left in limbo in Australian detention facilities to America.

Another group of refugees would depart for the US later this month, officials said.

Further, small groups of refugees are expected to depart later this year, although the timing is dependent on final medical and health checks.

It was also revealed that 31 transitory people remained in detention settings in Australia.

Some 19 people being held in detention were released on Friday, including several at Melbourne’s Park Hotel, which came to prominence in January after tennis star Novak Djokovic was detained there.

Of the 31 still being held, 25 were being considered for release.

Greens senator Nick McKim, a member of the Senate estimates committee, said on Twitter that the government should go further.

“This will leave just six or so in detention. Free them all now,” he said.

A further 49 refugees had been resettled in countries other than the US, such as Canada, the committee heard.

Australia recently signed a refugee resettlement deal with New Zealand, which would see that country take in 150 refugees a year for three years.

– AAP