News Worms
News Worms


Voices from Manus Island at rallies in Sydney and Melbourne

Voices from Manus Island at rallies in Sydney and Melbourne

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (centre) will raise the Manus Island situation with Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the Australian government was trying to drive the refugees and asylum seekers out of the centre and "into even more unsafe conditions".

The center on Manus Island was ruled "unconstitutional" by a court in PNG past year. The policy has come under fire from the United Nations and human rights groups over the indefinite detention of the refugees, who have reportedly suffered abuse and emotional stress.

Australia has an obligation to do so under global human rights law and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, he said.

The impending closure of the camp is part of an Australian government plan to push refugees and asylum seekers to either return to their home country, settle in PNG or move elsewhere, thereby disbanding part of Australia's controversial and expensive offshore detention program.

Campaigners say the government in Canberra is "treating the men like animals" and are demanding they be allowed to resettle in Australia. Among them are about 90 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, about 200 men from Iran, and others from Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan.

The Grand Chief said it is with sadness that he watched two countries play football with the lives of refugees on Manus Island.

"We urge both governments to communicate clearly to the refugees and related categories of person residing at the Centre, and the public, on the roadmap for addressing the immediate and long-term concerns, including identifying practical solutions for resettlement".

"And obviously the sooner the better, some of them have been there I think for four years", Colville said.

One of the detainees, an Iranian who identified himself as Behrouz Boochani, posted on Twitter that the refugees are digging deep holes in the ground to find water.

"The men have said they fear they will be subjected to violence at the hands of locals if they leave the compound - and, given there have been violent incidents in the past, we believe these fears should be respected and satisfactorily addressed".

"UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today reiterates its call to Australia to stop a humanitarian emergency unfolding on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea", the organisation said in a statement. "You can't keep political hostages".

"I acknowledge that, while New Zealand has not had to contend with these issues on our shores, it's hard to ignore the human face of this situation and nor should it be ignored".

Australia entered into an agreement during Barack Obama's administration for about 1,200 of those detained to be resettled in the U.S.

New Zealand's offer to take 150 refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres was first made in 2013.

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