Stalemate as refugees refuse to leave PNG camp
Sydney: Some 400 refugees rebuffed continued efforts by Papua New Guinea authorities to convince them to move from a shuttered Australian detention camp as the tense standoff over their future drags into a third week.
The confrontation has drawn global attention to Canberra’s tough immigration policy, under which asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to remote Pacific camps on PNG’s Manus Island and the island nation of Nauru.
Most of the 600 refugees detained at the camp refused to leave when Australia officially closed it on Oct 31 after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the site unconstitutional, citing fears for their safety outside.
They are barred from resettling in Australia and Canberra has struggled to transfer them to third countries.
Kurdish-Iranian detainee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said yesterday that the detainees were going to dig another well, a day after police moved into the camp to puncture or remove tanks holding the refugees’ remaining supplies of drinking water. Police, who have so far complied with orders from higher authorities not to resort to force to remove the men, used loudspeakers to appeal to the detainees to move on Monday.
Chief Inspector David Yapu said that he needed “some clear directives on our next course of action” to persuade the men to leave.