Thousands of Australian have taken to the streets of Australia during a protest demanding that refugees not be send back to Nauru or Manus Island on March 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.
Thousands of Australian have taken to the streets of Australia during a protest demanding that refugees not be send back to Nauru or Manus Island on March 20, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  Recep Sakar—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

U.S. and Australia Might Be Close to a Deal on Refugee Swap

Nov 11, 2016

Australia and the Obama administration are reportedly nearing a deal to help clear each country's extraterritorial refugee centers.

Speculation has been growing about a deal since Sept., when Australia announced at President Barack Obama's global migration summit that it would resettle migrants from U.S.-backed detention camps in Costa Rica in exchange for the U.S. taking in refugees living on Australia's Pacific Islands, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Australia has some 1,800 asylum seekers in camps on islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, many of whom have fled conflict or economic strife from Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Critics have called these camps Australia's 'Guantanamo Bay,' following allegations of inhumane treatment.

The need to resettle refugees has become more urgent, following Papua New Guinea's order to close the Australian-run detention center. Australia has refused to give the detainees asylum due to its tough border blockade policy, which rules that no asylum seeker who has arrived since the law was passed can settle in the country.

According to the WSJ, both the Australian and U.S. government have declined to comment on the deal.

[WSJ]

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.