After years in detention, 25 asylum seekers on Manus Island are among the first to be accepted by the US for resettlement.
After years in detention, 25 asylum seekers on Manus Island are among the first to be accepted by the US for resettlement. EOIN BLACKWELL

US to take 50 of our refugees

ABOUT 50 refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres have passed America's "extreme vetting” and will be resettled in the US in coming weeks.

It comes just six weeks before the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea is due to close.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked US President Donald Trump for honouring the deal with the Obama administration and said about 25 refugees from both Manus Island and Nauru would be resettled.

The deal had been the subject of their testy phone call in January, just days after the President's inauguration.

"This is good news,” Mr Turnbull told Channel 7's Sunrise program yesterday.

But there are questions over how many more of the 1600 refugees on Manus Island and Nauru who applied for resettlement will be accepted.

The White House has previously said the deal is to resettle 1250 refugees, if they pass the nation's vetting processes.

In a transcript of the leaked phone call between Mr Turnbull and President Trump, it was revealed Mr Turnbull had reassured the President he did not have to take the full number.

"The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose - 1250 to 2000,” he said in the call.

"Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting.

"You can decide to take 1000 or 100. It is entirely up to you.”

Mr Turnbull told Sunrise the 50 refugees who had been accepted were just the first to be resettled.

He did not specify how many more would be accepted.

"It is all subject to the United States' very, very thorough vetting - their extreme vetting,” he said.

"But we look forward to more refugees, people who have been judged to be refugees, on Nauru and Manus to be taken to the United States.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed this morning the first group of refugees would depart Papua New Guinea and Nauru in coming weeks.

"The refugees will receive notification of the outcome of their application to resettle under the US Refugee Admissions Program in coming days,” he said in a statement.

"Processing of other individuals continues and further decisions by US authorities are expected in due course.”

Mr Dutton reiterated that the resettlement was a "one-off” deal.

"Any people-smuggling boats that attempt to reach Australia will be intercepted and turned back,” he said.

- Claire Bickers