18 Dec 2017

US resettlement 'best Xmas present ever' - Manus refugee

2:58 pm on 18 December 2017

A Rohingyan refugee on Manus Island says news he will be resettled in the United States is the best Christmas present ever.

Refugees protest in the unfinished West Lorengau Transit Centre, 27-11-17.

Refugees protest in the unfinished West Lorengau Transit Centre on Manus Island Photo: supplied

The refugee says 64 men detained in Papua New Guinea by Australia were told last week they had been accepted by America.

He said 29 are Rohingyans, 21 are from Afghanistan, 11 are Pakistani and three are Burmese.

About 130 other refugees detained by Australia in Nauru were also reported to have been accepted by the US last week.

This group of about 200 in total will join 54 others who were resettled in the US in September.

America has agreed to accept up to 1250 refugees from Australian offshore detention.

The Australian government said it would wait for this agreement to conclude before considering New Zealand's offer to annualy resettle 150 of the refugees.

It's estimated there are currently between 1600 and 2000 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru.

The Rohingyan refugee, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was hard to believe he would soon experience real freedom.

He said he was looking forward to not introducing himself as "a stateless person."

"Some children have to fight for basic things like clothes and food, yet I have been fighting for life itself, since I was born," said the refugee.

"I don't regret all the negative experiences and what I've had to endure, rather I have accepted them as lessons and in doing so, have been rewarded with knowledge," he said.

"I am much stronger and more brave because of these hardships, and I believe I am wise beyond my years. I thank God for everything and finally blessing me with freedom, which is every human being's ultimate right."

The refugee said those accepted for US resettlement had to attend a 20-hour Cultural Orientation class and medical examination prior to their departure.

He said these would happen in the next two to three weeks and that the refugees would fly out of Papua New Guinea some time in January.

None of the refugees accepted for resettlement by the US so far come from countries whose citizens President Donald Trump wants to ban from entering America.

The Rohingyan man said he was praying that all of the men exiled to "the Manus hell" would soon be released.

"We won't be completely free, unless all our brothers are free and living a safe life in a safe nation," he said.

Meanwhile, a refugee tweeted that this Christmas would be the fifth for men detained on Manus Island.

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