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The 1250 Futures Upended By A Single Donald Trump Tweet

In this political game, the losers are trapped in an endless purgatory.

03/02/2017 10:37 AM AEDT | Updated 03/02/2017 4:10 PM AEDT

Malcolm Turnbull had a very bad day on Thursday, when U.S. president Donald Trump publicly slapped down the Australian Prime Minister's claims they'd agreed to a refugee swap first negotiated by Barack Obama.

The stakes for Turnbull are high, and the President's chaotic approach to the deal, packed full of mixed messages and bravado, has dropped the Prime Minister into a nightmare at home.

Such uncertainty must be political torture, but wouldn't come close to the actual torture 1,250 or so people are currently experiencing on the islands of Manus and Nauru.

On Manus, more than 500 of the men held in detention have had their refugee claims approved, but because they arrived in Australian waters by boat, instead of "joining the queue", they will never be eligible for settlement in Australia.

Successive governments have spent years throwing Hail Mary passes in the form of deals with other nations to take them off our hands. Meanwhile, these traumatised people sit waiting for their futures to start.

Behrouz Boochani is an Iranian journalist and refugee who has blogged previously for The Huffington Post Australia.

In a powerful post last November Boochani wrote:

After all that has happened, asylum seekers on Manus Island did not respond to the news about the resettlement in the United States. Anxiety and concern fills the detention centre as there is a chance that the new U.S. government will break the deal and put it off the table. Thus, this will add another issue on top of all matters which have happened in the past few years.

The declaration of such unclear news with no details sent all asylum seekers in the detention centre into a state of anxiety and worry. I must confess that throughout all these years, I have never seen the refugees bearing this level of anxiety, restlessness and fear.

Two and a half months on, the agony could only have intensified. On Friday morning, Boochani told ABC radio: "It was clear that Donald Trump cannot exit the refugees from Manus and Nauru because of ideological reasons. He's trying to build a wall, how can he take the refugees from Australia.

"The deal is a big torture on people. Every day we hear good news and then bad news. I don't know what will happen for us."

Imagine then what a punch to the guts Donald Trump's late-night outburst on Twitter must have been.

Detained Iranian refugee Amir Taghinia said this to the ABC: "I was very disappointed, and in the other way I was going insane because what the Australian prime minister is saying is totally different to what I searched on Twitter. I am not very surprised because I knew this is a game to keep people quiet for a while."

Support for the offshore processing and foreign resettlement of refugees who come to Australia by sea is bipartisan. The policy was reinstated by the Labor government after a horrifying wave of drownings of people desperate enough to pay people smugglers to bring them here, and both the Labor opposition and Liberal government maintain it's the only way to shut down the people smugglers and prevent more deaths.

So the people on Manus and Nauru have become the poster warnings for millions of refugees the world over. A position that comes at a terrible cost.

Turnbull is under enormous pressure to end their suffering and find a resettlement solution. He thought he had one.

Now their torture not just lives on, but intensifies.


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