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Dozens of refugees flown from Australia and PNG to US despite coronavirus travel bans: SBS

Refugees celebrate their imminent resettlement in the US.
Siurce: Father Giorgio Licini
"Australians in the US have been fundraising to support the refugees' resettlement which has been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dozens of refugees who have spent years in Australia’s offshore processing regime have been flown to the United States for resettlement, despite COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Transfers from Papua New Guinea and Australian immigration detention centres under the US resettlement program are continuing as the US struggles to contain the pandemic that has killed more than 93,000 people there. 

Thirty-five refugees departed Port Moresby on Thursday morning bound for the US via Singapore, and one refugee is due to fly to Finland, according to sources and documents obtained by SBS News.

A handful also departed Australia for the US this week, including several from the Kangaroo Point hotel being used as an “alternative place of detention” (APOD) in Brisbane and from community detention in Melbourne."

"Many of the refugees have underlying health conditions after years of detention and medical neglect on Manus Island and Nauru.
"Their condition puts them at higher risk from COVID-19," Mr Winsor said.

"We are in daily contact with two refugees in Texas who have contracted COVID-19."

On Tuesday, a number of refugees in Port Moresby celebrated their imminent resettlement under the Australian-US scheme with priest Giorgio Licini, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands.

“They were relaxed but had mixed feelings, especially that there are still some left behind, many are those who were never given refugees status and could not go home,” Father Giorgio said."

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