PNG ups pressure on refugees to leave Australian camp

Aaron Brown
November 14, 2017

He said giving asylum seekers New Zealand residence could give them a back-door into Australia.

The men remaining in the camp have been living there without electricity, running water, regular food supplies and medicine for 13 days.

Australian authorities have begun destroying shelters and water supplies of refugees who are refusing to leave a decommissioned immigration camp on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

But he said police would not use force to remove the 379 men who are still inside. "The refugees are only watching them", he said.

Papua New Guinea's High Court ruled a year ago that the Manus center, first opened in 2001, was illegal and the camp closed on October 31, when Australian-funded security staff withdrew.

"The Australian government, as a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, is responsible for these refugees, regardless of how they entered Australian territory to seek asylum".

The men were also threatened with "arrest and prosecution" if they remained at the site after fencing was demolished.

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More than 100 of the refugees have left for three "transition" centers on Manus since it was officially closed.

A legal challenge to have the PNG government restore essential services to the original detention centre, on the grounds their removal breached the constitutional rights of those inside, was rejected last week. The Australian government is failing to uphold the most basic human rights.

"The current situation at the MRPC and on Manus Island is now totally out of control and fears of a looming "bloodbath" are mounting by the day".

With Australia refusing to take any of the refugees, and a deal between the United States and Australia moving ahead slowly, Ardern reiterated an offer to resettle 150 refugees from Manus and Nauru when she visited Sydney shortly after becoming Prime Minister.

"We see that we have a role to play here, we're very eager to play that role and as I say I'll be having another conversation with the Prime Minister in the Philippines". No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done, ' she said on Sunday. "I think it's clear that we don't think what's happening there as acceptable, that's why the offer's there", she said.

But he said none of the refugees agreed to move yesterday to alternative facilities in the island's main town.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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