After committing to honour the refugee resettlement deal made between the Obama administration and the Australian government, US President Donald Trump tweeted after speaking with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the deal was ‘dumb’. Since the phone call, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop claimed that the two countries were working through details and that the deal would go ahead, and White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the deal would be honoured ‘in some way’. However, following this, US immigration officials postponed interviews with asylum seekers on Nauru, suggesting a block on progress with the deal.
In the light of the US-Australia refugee deal, President Trump’s immigration ban and continuing medical emergencies on Manus Island and Nauru, several hundred people protested outside Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday, demanding that asylum seekers held on Manus Island and Nauru be brought to Australia.
On Friday, a pregnant 37-year-old Kuwaiti asylum seeker known as Dee, who appears to be suffering from pre-eclampsia, was airlifted to Australia from Nauru for the delivery of her baby. The move was made after a month of heavy lobbying of the Australian government by doctors. The government initially resisted, saying that there were ‘comprehensive’ medical services on the island.
Loghman Sawari, an Iranian asylum seeker who fled to Fiji after being held on Manus Island for three years, was deported back to Papua New Guinea 10 days later by the Fijian government. Fiji’s attorney-general stated that Sawari was deported because he had entered Fiji on a fraudulent passport and because the UNHCR had advised Fiji that Sawari was not deemed a refugee under their mandate. However, a statement released by the UNHCR expressed ‘regrets that interventions to prevent Mr Sawari’s forced return were not successful’.