Papua New Guinea forces refugees to leave camp
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.