Pa­pua New Guinea forces refugees to leave camp

The Mercury News Weekend - - OTHER VIEWS - By RodMcguirk

CAN­BERRA, AUS­TRALIA » Pa­puaNewGuinea au­thor­i­ties on Thurs­day re­moved dozens of asy­lum seek­ers and ratch­eted up pres­sure on more than 300 oth­ers to aban­don a de­com­mis­sioned im­mi­gra­tion camp, where refugees re­ported their shel­ters, beds and other be­long­ings have been de­stroyed.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Gari Baki said 50 po­lice and im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials en­tered the Manus Is­land camp Thurs­day morn­ing and “peace­fully re­lo­cated” 50 asy­lum seek­ers among the 378 men to al­ter­nate ac­com­mo­da­tions in the nearby town of Loren­gau.

Water, power and food sup­plies to the Manus camp ended when it of­fi­cially closed on Oct. 31, based on the Pa­pua New Guinea Supreme Court’s rul­ing last year that Aus­tralia’s pol­icy of hous­ing asy­lum seek­ers there was un­con­sti­tu­tional. But asy­lum seek­ers fear for their safety in Loren­gau be­cause of threats from lo­cal res­i­dents.

Aus­tralia pays Pa­pua New Guinea, its near­est neigh­bor, and the tiny na­tion of Nauru to hold thou­sands of asy­lum seek­ers from Africa, the Mid­dle East and Asia try­ing to reach Aus­tralian shores by boat since mid-2013.

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