Sydney, Aug 23 (IANS) The Australian government on Wednesday confirmed that a group of Cuban refugees entered the country under the immigration agreement signed with the US during the Barack Obama administration.
Officials said 17 Cuban immigrants arrived in May 2016 at a lighthouse in the Florida Sea and spent more than a year at the US Guantanamo Naval Base after a US court ruled that they could not be taken into the country. These immigrants have now been resettled in Australia’s Brisbane city, Efe news reported.
“The refugees were evaluated by Australian government officials and meet the criteria of Refugee and Humanitarian Visas,” a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said.
The official did not specify whether this was the first group to arrive under the agreement reached during the Obama administration, in which the US pledged to take in some 1,250 refugees that Australia detained in Nauru and on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.
In return, Australia committed to take in some 30 people considered “vulnerable” from several Central American countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, according to the Australian government officials.
The agreement strained relations between Washington and Canberra following a telephone conversation in February between US President Donald Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, during which the US leader said the pact was “stupid”, but later pledged to respect it.
Alexander Vergara Lopez, one of the Cuban refugees taken in by Australia, said that he found himself at ease in the city of Brisbane, where he is still in contact with the rest of the group.
Post Source: Ians feed