US officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention centre left the facility abruptly, three detainees have revealed, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.
US officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap.
“US (officials) were scheduled to be on Nauru until July 26 but they left on Friday,” one refugee said, requesting anonymity as he did not want to jeopardise his application for US resettlement.
In the United States, a senior member of the union that represents refugee officers at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Department of Homeland Security agency, said his own trip to Nauru was not going forward as scheduled.
Jason Marks, chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, said his trip has now been pushed back and it was unclear whether it will actually happen.