UN urges hu­mane ap­proach on Manus refugee cri­sis

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - International -

THE U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) asked Pa­pua New Guinea au­thor­i­ties to “show calm and re­straint in the con­text of the clo­sure” of the de­com­mis­sioned refugee de­ten­tion camp on Manus Is­land.

Wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and food sup­plies have been cut to the cen­ter since more than a week ago and the PNG gov­ern­ment on Thurs­day warned refugees and asy­lum seek­ers, who are hud­dled in the Aus­tralian-run fa­cil­ity, to leave by Satur­day.

PNG au­thor­i­ties have de­stroyed shel­ter and wa­ter stor­age at the de­com­mis­sioned de­ten­tion cen­ter on Manus Is­land in a bid to move about 600 refugees and asy­lum seek­ers who are re­fus­ing to re­lo­cate to new fa­cil­i­ties.

Videos re­ceived by DPA showed po­lice and immigration of­fi­cials en­ter­ing the com­pound of the camp, tear­ing down makeshift shel­ters and re­leas­ing wa­ter from stor­age tanks and rub­bish bins.

The de­tainees had constructed the shel­ters as the per­ma­nent struc­tures were too hot to live in af­ter elec­tric­ity to the camp was cut last week. “Greater un­der­stand­ing is needed for the per­spec­tives of these vul­ner­a­ble hu­man be­ings, who have al­ready suf­fered im­mensely,” Thomas Al­brecht, UNHCR’s Re­gional Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Canberra, said.

The UNHCR also said Aus­tralia has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to ur­gently find ap­pro­pri­ate long-term so­lu­tions for all who have sought its pro­tec­tion. Ear­lier, an Aus­tralian min­is­ter said the refugees were “squat­ting.”

Christo­pher Pyne, a cab­i­net min­is­ter, said Fri­day the men re­fused to take op­tions avail­able, in­clud­ing mov­ing to new fa­cil­i­ties or re­turn to their coun­try of ori­gin.

“All those peo­ple in Manus Is­land who are at that de­ten­tion cen­ter are ef­fec­tively squat­ting there,” Pyne told broad­caster Chan­nel Nine.

But the refugees, liv­ing in squalid con­di­tion, have re­fused to move to three new tem­po­rary fa­cil­i­ties - parts of which are not yet com­pleted - near the is­land’s main town of Loren­gau due to fears of be­ing at­tacked by lo­cals.

“Ac­tivists in Aus­tralia telling them to stay there and they will get to Aus­tralia are ly­ing to them and that is un­for­tu­nately the sit­u­a­tion,” Pyne said.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull, who is in Viet­nam to at­tend the APEC re­gional sum­mit, said the new fa­cil­i­ties are fully-equipped and ad­e­quate, con­trary to what the United Na­tions has said.

“They are act­ing in a way con­trary to the in­ter­ests of those refugees and other res­i­dents,” Turnbull said, adding that the refugees must fol­low the PNG law.

PNG’s Supreme Court ordered the cen­ter to close be­cause it was un­con­sti­tu­tional and il­le­gal. The United Na­tions has de­scribed the Manus Is­land stand-off as an un­fold­ing “hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis.”

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