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Diplomatic stoush between Trump and Turnbull highlights refugee plight to the world

US President Donald Trump has called a deal between and the Obama administration “dumb”. Refugee Amin Abofetileh in the jungle on Los Negros island, next to Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Ashley Gilbertson
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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (foreground) and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (background). Photo: Michele Mossop

As the dust settles from the now-infamous phone call between Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull, the world’s media is beginning to focus on the issue that caused their spat.

Donald Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to call a refugee deal with a “dumb deal” and declare he would “study it”.

“Do you believe it?” he wrote. “The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from .”

Since then, media organisations in the United States, the UK and New Zealand have put the deal – and the 1200 people it concerns – under the microscope.

The Los Angeles Times pointed out that conditions on Manus Island and Nauru have been repeatedly criticised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“The refugees are the collateral damage in ‘s widely criticized ‘Stop the Boats’ policy,” the LA Times wrote. “Many have reported that the biggest problem is the sense of paralysis at being trapped in limbo indefinitely.”

Another media site, Quartz, said the refugees were “languishing for years in offshore detention facilities”. An interviewee described the detainees as being “held hostage”.

In its explainer of the issue, news and media site Vox said conditions in the camps were “appalling”.

“Detainees have resorted to self-immolation to draw attention to their plight,” Vox said. ” continue[s] to look for any solution that wouldn’t require it to actually accept the refugees. That’s where the US comes in.”

The Atlantic and the New York Times also highlighted the plight of the refugees, the former in a story that asked: “Is the Refugee Deal With ‘Dumb’?”

“Although accepted 13,756 refugees in 2014-15, the period for which the most recent data are available, the country’s policy of offshore-detention centers for asylum-seekers who arrive by boat has been widely criticized,” The Atlantic said.

The Timespublished a video diary showing the daily life of a refugee on the “hell-hole” Manus Island.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Daily Mirror described the conditions the refugees were living in as “pitiful”.

“The refugees are living under armed guard in squalid conditions – and getting cameras in to expose their plight has been near impossible,” the Mirror wrote.

In 2015, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton brushed off the United Nations Human Rights Council’s criticism of .

“We were criticised by, I noted, Bangladesh, by Iran, by North Korea. North Korea was my favourite,” Mr Dutton told the ABC’s 7.30.

“Frankly, I think it belittles the UN process when you’ve got countries like North Korea trying to lecture our country in relation to human rights.”

With more people around the world becoming aware of the Manus and Nauru deal, it’s possible this criticism could soon come from the US and the UK.

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