Australians protest in support of refugees

Protesters in Canberra call for rights for refugees. Source: AAP

Protests have continued around Australia, as the White House confirmed the US President will honour a refugee resettlement deal with Australia - in some way. Under the deal, the United States would take up to 1,250 asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru. In return, Australia would take refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The federal government says processing of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island is continuing, despite concern from the US administration over screening protocols.  

The White House says the asylum-seeker deal with Australia will go ahead but US officials will vet the refugees before allowing them to resettle.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the screening process on Nauru is continuing.

"This was an agreement reached under the Obama administration and of course the details always had to be worked through and it was always subject to vetting by the United States authorities."

However, refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island say they are concerned over uncertainty surrounding their future.

Iranian asylum seekers Amir Taghinia and Behrouz Boochani say they are afraid for what will happen to them.

"They call this a dumb deal. These are the things that plays with your mind and put more pressure on you. Everyone is upset, everyone is so hopeless and helpless. News does not really work on people anymore, people are having this feeling of numbness...Behrouz Boochani:) "What will happen for us and the government what is there plan?," says Mr Taghinia.

Canberra protest

Protesters gathered in Canberra on Saturday to highlight the plight of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island.

Archdeacon of the Central Coast, Father Rod Bower says the crowd welcomed two very special activists.

"Well we've gathered in Canberra today to welcome two incredible people who have walked all the way from Adelaide - a father and son, Adam and Ned, and they've done this to highlight the plight of asylum seekers, especially those on Nauru and Manus Island."

Father Bower has told SBS News that there has been great community support over the weekend.

"There's hundreds of people gathered here, although it's very hot and there are a number of other rallies going on around the country this weekend as well. There is growing community support and deep concern for these people in our detention centres."

Sydney protest

Protesters also gathered at Sydney's Hyde Park calling for refugees on Nauru and Manus Island to be resettled in Australia.

Rally co-organiser, Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, says the federal government needs to take responsibility for the fate of refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres.  

"It's the fiasco was put to an end. In that sense, Trump's position, his announced ban, and the questions that hang over the US deal now. He is going to reconsider it. It is under consideration in some way. They will be subject to "extreme vetting". It is all really code for saying you cannot rely on this. And that hundreds are going to be left behind. That is not acceptable."

Protester Rogina Parchizadadeh says the Australian government must be braver.

"You should be standing against discrimination, you should be nurturing the minds of our world. There are innocent kids getting bombed every day and nobody cares about them and they deserve a safe home."

Sydney protester Mukhtar Jansiz is a Syrian refugee who came to Australia two years ago.

Mr Jansiz says he hopes refugees worldwide will receive the support they need, especially after the Trump administration recently singled out Syrian refugees in a migration ban.

He's told SBS News that he's worried people will view Syrians badly: "Something very, very bad for the Syrians and most of the people now just thinking that Syrians are terrorists and it's a very, very dangerous thought. We are not terrorists and Islam means peace not extremists or terrorists in the Syrian community."

Mr Jansiz says it's devastating Syrians have been targeted by the Trump administration.

"Very, very sorry about this crazy decision and we refuse this decision - not only for the Syrian refugees but for all the refugees in the world because who leaves his country. Normally, as a normal person, nobody leaves his country because we are leaving our country - we are fleeing from hell, we are looking for life, we are looking to live peacefully with our children, with our families."  

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