Published: Thu, November 23, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Australia defends alternative accommodation for asylum seekers against United Nations criticism

Australia defends alternative accommodation for asylum seekers against United Nations criticism

Papua New Guinea's Post-Courier newspaper reported on Tuesday that immigration officials would begin evicting the men on Wednesday, the fourth such deadline imposed on the refugees to leave since the camp's closure on October 31.

Papua New Guinea police moved into the shuttered Australian refugee camp on the country's Manus Island Thursday in the most aggressive push yet to force hundreds of men to leave, the Australian government and detainees said. "We are under attack", he said, adding that two refugees were in need of urgent medical treatment.

"UNHCR has been given assurances that excessive force has not been used, but can not independently confirm as staff have not been granted full access to the facility", the refugee agency said in a statement.

"He was stirring up trouble and telling the other refugees not to move out of the centre so police and officers... simply escorted him out", Mr Baki said.

The camp, and another on the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, have been the cornerstones of Australia's controversial immigration policy, which has been strongly criticised by the United Nations and rights groups.

PNG authorities have tried to undermine efforts of refugees to survive at the camp by stopping food coming in, sabotaging water tanks and water storage created by refugees, and denying them the ability to purchase over-the-counter medications in the town of Lorengau.

The Iranian journalist and human rights activist Behrouz Boochani, who has exposed to the world the extent of abuse being experienced by those in the detention camp, was arrested and then released earlier this morning.

MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy said Boochani appeared to have been deliberately targeted by Papua New Guinea police during the crackdown because of his high-profile as a journalist reporting from inside the detention centre.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed a PNG police operation is underway to remove those remaining in the mothballed facility
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed a PNG police operation is underway to remove those remaining in the mothballed facility

Some 200 men eventually moved to the new facilities, but the rest stayed put despite worsening conditions.

On Thursday, police moved in and took 50 men to alternative camps, PNG Police Commissioner Gari Baki said.

"They think this is some way they can pressure the Australian Government to let them come to Australia", he said. "We will not outsource our migration policy to people smugglers", Mr Turnbull told reporters.

Global rights group Amnesty International said Thursday there were "risks of serious injury if the authorities use force", and called for the refugees to be brought to Australia.

Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed a "police operation" at the former detention center, as refugees reported large numbers of police officers had entered the facility and gave them an hour to leave.

But so far, just 54 refugees have been accepted by Washington, with 24 flown to America in September.

Amnesty said the refugees' safety fears were also "well-founded", adding that some had previously been "attacked and seriously injured" by locals "who have made clear they do not want the men on Manus".

The Australian Medical Association on Sunday called on Canberra to allow doctors to help the refugees, warning there was a "worsening and more unsafe situation emerging on Manus".


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