Refugees in Australian-Run Camps Say U.S. Security Vetting Started
Refugees held at an Australian-run detention center on the Pacific Island of Nauru said U.S. Department of Homeland Security officers began taking their biometric details ahead of possible resettlement in the U.S.
The Obama administration pledged to take in refugees from Australia’s offshore camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island in return for Australia resettling Central American refugees. U.S. president Donald Trump criticized the deal but pledged to uphold it.
Homeland Security officers started collecting the fingerprints, heights and weights of refugees on March 20. If they pass the initial screening, they will have face-to-face interviews with Homeland Security on the islands, according to a document provided to the Associated Press.
Biometric data collection will begin at the Manus Island camp in early April, Reuters reported.
Refugees have not been given a timeline of how long the process will take. Some were skeptical they would ever be resettled in the U.S. “For me, I really don’t believe anything [about] when I get out from this hell. I heard too many lies like this in this three and half years,” one woman detained on Nauru told Reuters.
Neither the Department of Homeland Security nor Australia’s immigration ministry has commented on the reports of security screenings.
Somalia Blames Saudi-Led Coalition for Deadly Attack on Refugee Boat
The Somali government said it holds the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen responsible for attacking a boat of Somali refugees.
The March 17 assault by a helicopter gunship and military ship off the Yemeni coast left at least 42 refugees dead.
Somalia called on the coalition to investigate what happened. Somali foreign minister Abdisalam Omer demanded the embattled Yemeni government also provide an explanation for the attack.
The coalition fighting Houthi rebels and their allies in Yemen – which is backed by the U.S. – has denied responsibility for the attack.
On March 19, the coalition urged the U.N. to bring the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, close to where the refugees departed, under its supervision in order to prevent weapons smuggling and people trafficking. It is currently controlled by the Houthis.
France to Move Hundreds of Residents Out of Dunkirk Migrant Camp
France’s housing minister announced a plan to halve the size of a migrant camp near Dunkirk and move hundreds of asylum seekers to reception centers around the country.
Emmanuelle Cosse said the camp of around 1,500 people in Grande-Synthe had become impossible to manage and its population would be reduced to 700.
Following the dismantling of the nearby “Jungle” camp in Calais, France had pledged to eventually shut down the Dunkirk camp, where hundreds of migrants are living in poor conditions, in the hope of one day finding a way to cross to the U.K.
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