A refugee’s jog from Manus to US: ‘I’m able to now not possess I am right here’


Sleek York Metropolis – Shafiq waited for a bus in the gritty industrial outskirts of Elizabeth, Sleek Jersey.

It was as soon as a cool January morning but Shafiq, skinny with piercing blue eyes, upright may well presumably per chance not quit smiling.

“I never ever opinion I would quit up in The United States,” he mentioned.

Smiling from ear to ear, Shafiq, whose surname is being withheld to present protection to his identification, boarded the bus to Sleek York Metropolis.

“They asked me which city I needed to run to and I mentioned, ‘Sleek York’, upright because everybody advised me it was as soon as unprecedented,” he mentioned.

“I deserve to work so I pays for using lessons, after which I notion to force a taxi,” he added.

True days earlier, the 26-year-faded Pakistani refugee was as soon as on flown to the US on a secretive refugee transfer from an Australian-drag camp on Manus Island, off mainland Papua Sleek Guinea.

The transfer, segment of an settlement made below the administration of ancient US President Barack Obama, was as soon as designed to resolve an ongoing stain on Australia’s human rights file.

For Shafiq and those love him, the flight to the US represented a brand new launch after years of being detained in deteriorating conditions on Manus Island. 

Australia’s detention prisons

Since 2013, Australia has refused to resettle refugees who advance by boat.

Instead, those intercepted are sent to offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. The policy has drawn standard condemnation by worldwide rights groups, as effectively as the United Nations, who relate the harsh conditions of the centres.

Self-damage, suicides, and bodily and sexual abuse had been documented with frequency in the Australian-drag amenities.

Shafiq was as soon as one in all the predominant a hundred refugees from Manus and Nauru to launch new lives in the US as segment of an settlement the Trump administration reluctantly saved intact.

“I possess it is a disagreeable deal, a disgusting deal that I would rep never made,” President Donald Trump advised Australia’s Top Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a combative, leaked conversation closing year.

“I am the field’s supreme particular person that would not deserve to let of us into the country,” Trump mentioned, blasting Turnbull for making him scrutinize “extinct and ineffective”.

Nonetheless, the settlement to resettle up to 1,250 of Australia’s unwanted refugees is quietly going forward.

US officers are below no illusions of how unpopular the deal is in the White Home. Australia is cautious of any perceived incentives that would restart the of us-smuggling change.

But for the refugees themselves, or now not it is a prolonged-awaited probability for a brand new existence.

‘Worst experience of our lives’

“As soon as in a while, I’m able to now not possess I am in The United States,” Rafiullah Yousafzai advised Al Jazeera in a phone interview from North Carolina. 

The 25-year-faded ancient detainee from Pakistan mentioned for weeks he jolted wide awake from nightmares about his time on Manus.

“With criminals, they know the draw prolonged they’ll be in detention heart, but we had no notion how prolonged we is most definitely there. It’ll had been for the relaxation of my existence,” Yousafzai mentioned. “It was as soon as a hellish space.”

For Shafiq, his new existence, now not far from Sleek york, offers a supreme irony.

His family is from Parachinar, a city in jap Pakistan, that borders Afghanistan’s Tora Bora draw.

After the 9/Eleven, 2001 assaults in Sleek York and Washington, DC, the US began pounding the draw where the CIA suspected Osama bin Laden was as soon as hiding.

The distance grew to develop into a hotspot for Taliban-linked assaults. In Parachinar, Shafiq’s oldsters urged him to flee the country and make the next existence for himself.

In 2013, the then-21-year-faded travelled by Thailand and Malaysia, in some draw sneaking into Indonesia and boarding a boat to Australia. Within the previous 18 years, extra than 1,800 of us rep drowned attempting the same jog in preserving with Monash College’s Australian Border Deaths Database.

With criminals, they know the draw prolonged they’ll be in detention heart, but we had no notion how prolonged we is most definitely there. It’ll had been for the relaxation of my existence. It was as soon as a hellish space.

Rafiullah Yousafzai

Shafiq’s timing may well presumably per chance now not had been worse. Australia had upright presented its tricky new border protection policy.

Shafiq was as soon as deported to Manus quickly after his arrival. For quite a lot of the time, he lived in detention heart-love conditions till a 2016 court docket ruling came upon the men’s detention was as soon as unconstitutional, forcing it to conclude a year later.

“We had the worst experience of our lives on Manus,” Shafiq mentioned. “If I possess now about Manus detention heart, it makes me loopy.”

In accordance with Amnesty Worldwide, about seven hundred refugees remain in PNG, mostly on Manus. One other 250 are detained on Nauru, authorities statistics present. 

After several tiny-scale transfers, roughly 370 ancient detainees from Manus and Nauru had been licensed by the US, in preserving with local media, citing Home Affairs officers in Australia. 

A refugee from Myanmar is exploring new-came upon independence in Atlanta, Georgia. An Iranian refugee works as a welder in Phoenix, Arizona. Yousafzai has upright been employed by a neighborhood industry in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“Now we rep to launch at an entry-stage job and scheme lives right here,” Yousafzai mentioned. “We are in fact respectful of American citizens, because they gave us a house.”

Shafiq’s first photo was as soon as of the Sleek York Times constructing [Ben Winsor/Al Jazeera] 

Abet in Sleek york, Shafiq took in the sights most Sleek Yorkers barely anxiousness to scrutinize at.

His first describe was as soon as of the Sleek York Times constructing. “They wrote about us,” he mentioned excitedly.

He took selfies with extensive structures and laughed at a dancing snowman in Times Sq..

He mentioned he was as soon as reassured that there are so powerful of yellow taxis cramming the busy streets.

Standing on Forty first Motorway – outside a bus space derided by Sleek Yorkers as the ugliest space in town, if now not the field – Shafiq took a second to get rid of it all in.

“Wow,” he mentioned, beaming. “Sleek York is a moderately city.”


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