The U.S. and Australia are close to closing a deal in which America would receive hundreds of refugees exiled from Australia to Pacific island camps.
Australian refugee camps in Nauru and Papa New Guinea have been criticized by human rights groups for having deplorable conditions, with little to no access to health care and shoddy accommodations. Al Jazeera reports 15 percent of the 410 refugees on the island of Nauru have either attempted suicide or have had suicidal thoughts.
"I met children as young as nine who had already tried to kill themselves and were talking openly about ending their lives," Amnesty International official Anna Neistat told Al jazeera.
Australia's prime minister, Malcom Turnbull denied these allegations saying they were "absolutely false" and that "The Australian government's commitment is compassionate and strong."
A new deal between the U.S. and Australia could mean that America will accept 1,800 refugees from the controversial Pacific island camps, according to Fox News.
Australian officials are trying to work fast to make this agreement a reality, before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Trump has called for either a complete stop to or tighter restrictions on Muslim immigration to the U.S. So, if this deal is to become a reality, negotiators believe that they only have until the end of current President Obama's term in office.
"There certainly is time — two and a half months is plenty of time — and if that's the case, it will be a great achievement for the Turnbull government," said senior government minister Christopher Pyne, according to Fox News.
Australia's Labor Party condemned a similar deal back in 2007, saying that more refugees would try to come to Australia thinking that they have a chance of resettling in the U.S.
Yet, now, oppositional lawmakers are excited at the idea of emptying these Pacific island refugee camps and resettling them elsewhere.
"If this [deal] occurs, that will be a good thing," said senior oppositional lawmaker Anthony Albanese.
At the Leaders' Summit on Refugees in September, Australia announced plans to increase its refugee intake from 5,000 to 18,750 per year.