Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern slams 'unacceptable' Manus Island situation

Belinda Tasker                                                       Wednesday Belinda Tasker Wednesday
Saul Franklin | 14 November, 2017, 00:27

The approximately 420 asylum seekers and refugees choosing to remain at the now-closed Manus Island processing centre have been without food, water or medical supplies for nearly two weeks.

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers at Manus Island have barricaded themselves inside the closed detention centre, with some describing the situation as a humanitarian crisis.

Peace Action Wellington says refugees have been indefinitely detained by the Australian government in illegal camps on Manus Island and are now being forcibly moved into even more precarious situation.

"The Australian government, as a signatory to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, is responsible for these refugees, regardless of how they entered Australian territory to seek asylum".

"Our advice to them is that common sense must prevail", Manus Police Commander David Yapu said on Monday.

"What Australia is doing is inhumane, and that is why we are here locking down the Australian high commission".

The men - who have refused to move to three transit centers - come from war-torn countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Syria.

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The men were also threatened with "arrest and prosecution" if they remained at the site after fencing was demolished.

The Detention Centre remains restricted to the public and media personnel.

"The refugees are watching them fearfully...(they) are extremely scared by immigration threat but still saying we will not leave this prison camp for another prison camp", he said.

Australia has used the Manus island center, and another on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, to detain asylum seekers who try to reach its shores by boat.

She's seeking another meeting with Turnbull to discuss New Zealand's offer to take 150 of the refugees and doesn't believe the Aussie PM sees it as a stunt. "No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done".

"I see the human face of this, I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play. I think it's clear that we don't think what's happening there is acceptable, that's why the offer is there".

"The safety of both the refugees and government workers plus staff of leading agencies is not to be taken for granted given the tension that is now being expressed by the locals on Manus Island", he said.

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