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US to soon decide on resettling Australia's Manus Island detainees

17 Jun 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar
Will US resettle Australia's Manus Island detainees?

As the Australian government prepares to close down its detention centre in Manus Island, US is set to decide soon on whether they would take the detainees in, as per the terms of a previous agreement.

President Trump had earlier termed it "a dumb deal for America".

Speaking to Reuters, two detainees confirmed that they were told to expect a decision in six weeks.

In context: Will US resettle Australia's Manus Island detainees?

17 Jun 2017US to soon decide on resettling Australia's Manus Island detainees

ContextAustralia's policy towards asylum-seekers

Australia has witnessed a huge influx of asylum-seekers in the past decade, coming in after undertaking dangerous voyages.

Huge influxes led the government to adopt tougher stand against the asylum-seekers.

In cases where they got to Australian shores, they were sent to offshore detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where they were kept, until their claims could be processed.

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Why is the Manus Island facility controversial?

ControversyWhy is the Manus Island facility controversial?

Rights groups allege that the asylum-seekers were held in deplorable conditions and have termed the camps inadequate.

They further cite poor hygiene and facilities, heat and cramped spaces among the deplorable conditions in the facility.

PNG Supreme Court in April 2016 had ruled that restricting the movement of asylum-seekers was unconstitutional, following which Australia agreed to close it down by October 31.

Prisoner swapWhat is the US-Australia agreement about?

Under the terms of a deal signed by President Obama, US signed on to resettle up to 1250 refugees including those at the Manus Island detention centre, which Australia is looking to close down.

In exchange, Australia agreed to take in Central American refugees from a Costa Rican detention centre.

Trump's resistance to the deal had strained US-Australia ties in the recent months.

ChancesWill the US take them in after all?

70 detainees from countries including Afghanistan and Myanmar have been subjected to an extreme vetting process, looking into things including possible ISIS-links and a medical examination.

Recent events including Trump agreeing to honour the deal after strict vetting and recent high-level visits from US officials have eased the strain.

Does this mean that the US is gearing up to take them in?

ConclusionWhat could happen now?

as Australia has blatantly refused to take the detainees in and the US yet to confirm, about 200 refugees are currently left without a resettlement plan.

Following the closure of the Manus Island facilities, the detainees are likely to be settled in PNG or returned to their countries of origin. They could also be re-located to detention centres in Nauru or Christmas Island.