SYDNEY (Reuters) – The last remaining child asylum seeker held in Australia’s remote Pacific detention centre has been resettled, the country’s minister for immigration said on Thursday.
Under Canberra’s hardline immigration policy, asylum seekers trying to reach Australia by sea are intercepted and sent for processing to camps in Papua New Guinea and the tiny South Pacific island of Nauru.
Australia’s minority government has been under mounting pressure to remove children from Nauru amid warnings about their mental health.
Bowing to threats from independents to force an early election, Australia’s immigration minister David Coleman said the last four children and their families had been resettled in the United States as part of a controversial swap deal between Canberra and Washington.
“We have now removed all children from Nauru,” Coleman said in an emailed statement.
“This is something the government has been working on for some time, quietly and in a way that would not impact our border protection policies.”
U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017 begrudgingly agreed to honour a deal agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama to resettle up to 1,250 refugees held by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
In exchange, Australia accepted approximately 30 refugees from Central America.
(Reporting by Colin Packham, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)