'Authorities must ensure safety of refugees on Manus Island'
'Authorities must ensure safety of refugees on Manus Island'
Refugees protest in the Manus Island regional processing centre
30 October, 2017, 13:10
Australia is exclusively responsible for refugees who do not want to resettle in Papua New Guinea (PNG) when its detention centre in Manus Island closes, the PNG government has announced.
The government said local accommodation and support would be provided for asylum seekers before Manus' closure however the United Nations said the people would be rendered "homeless and destitute" with "no income support and little chance of finding work to provide for their food", The Guardian reported. However detainees say the alternative proposed by the government is far worse. "The guys (refugees) have said they will stay, they don't intend to move", Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul told AFP Sunday. The plan to close the Manus centre came after a ruling by PNG's Supreme Court previous year that holding people there was unconstitutional.
He urged the Australian government to maintain all necessary medical and mental health services on Manus.
In April, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton flagged that the centre would be closed by October 31, but last week warned that ongoing resistance would "make it hard for us to achieve" the deadline.
However, Canberra has consistently said that none will be transferred to Australia. Hundreds more remain at the camp.
Water and power will be cut off at the centre, one of two Pacific camps where asylum seekers who try to enter Australia by boat are sent for processing under Canberra's harsh immigration policy.
"This is a human rights urgency unfolding before our eyes".
Thomas said of those transferred to Manus under Australia's tough policies, almost 600 had returned home voluntarily, seven were deported and five had died - leaving 610 genuine refugees and 201 non-refugees on the island. "The tragic irony is that moving these men from their squalid, guarded centre and settling them elsewhere in PNG will actually put them at greater danger".
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