More refugees leave Manus for US as Coalition backbenchers demand action


The US has accepted another 17 refugees from Manus Island.

Seventeen refugees departed Manus Island on Tuesday, bound for the US.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to SBS News the group had left the island.

According to the Refugee Action Coalition, the cohort included six Afghans, five Pakistanis, five Rohingya and one Bangladeshi.

But the refugee advocacy group said their departure was not a cause for celebration.

"The total number of refugees from Manus accepted by the US in the last two years is just 167. Over 600 remain in limbo on Manus or in Port Moresby. Around 800, including around 80 children on Nauru, with little prospect of resettlement," the Refugee Action Coalition said in a statement.

"The composition of the group confirms the pattern of the nationalities being accepted to the US from Manus and Nauru this year. Again, there are no Iranians, Somali, Sudanese, Iraqi or Syrian refugees in the group for resettlement."

The Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea.
The Manus Island detention centre, Papua New Guinea.

SBS News asked the Department of Home Affairs if there was a timeline for the remaining refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to be resettled but did not revive a reply. 

Spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition Ian Rintoul said "the failure of the US deal exposes the humanitarian crisis that has been created by the Australian government on Manus and Nauru". 

"A very similar medical emergency to that on Nauru is unfolding on Manus. Severe medical and mental health cases are left without help." 

It comes as three Coalition MPs joined the calls for children in detention on Nauru to be removed because of serious mental and physical health concerns.

Craig Laundy, Russell Broadbent and Julia Banks said the situation on Australia's offshore detention centre on the Pacific island nation has reached a "tipping point".

The offshore policy is designed to deter people embarking on treacherous sea journeys, but the United Nations and other rights groups have criticised the camps' conditions and long detention periods.

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