Law enforcement officials in Papua New Guinea moved to evict hundreds
of asylum seekers from a former detention center on Manus
Island after the Australian government closed it late last
Hundreds of men have been holed up at the center for more than
three weeks, refusing to move to a nearby town over fear of reprisals
from local residents. But immigration officials and local
police entered the facility on Thursday, according to media
reports and videos, aggressively shouting at holdouts to leave.
Some of the men at the center were reportedly in need of
medical help during the encounter, and others said authorities
were destroying their property in an attempt to make them
They destroying all our property.
They are so angry, and telling us leave our land
First they said move to town,now more angry and telling us
leave our land otherwise we will kill u.
Police commissioner Yapu said: It’s an Order from
Australian and PNG governments to move u out pic.twitter.com/uyA7p4wcsI
— Walid Zazai (@ZazaiWalid)
November 22, 2017
“Immigration and police started searching the rooms and are
saying ‘Move, Move,’ you only have an hour to move,” Behrouz
Boochani, a Kurdish journalist and asylum seeker inside the
detention center, wrote on Twitter.
“Too much stress and tension here in Delta. Some refugees are
Australia, by law, refuses to resettle any migrants who attempt
to travel to the country by boat to seek asylum, an attempt to
discourage people from making the dangerous and often deadly
crossing. The Australian government had paid Papua New Guinea
to house hundreds of detainees captured at sea since 2013 at
the Manus Island detention center but announced earlier this
year that it would close the controversial facility on Oct. 31.
More than 400 people were inside the facility before
authorities began storming it on Thursday, a mix of recognized
refugees and people still seeking political asylum.
Last month, access to water, electricity and food at the center
was cut off, and Australia said those still in the facility
would need to move to another in a nearby town, but hundreds of
the men refused. Conditions quickly deteriorated at the center,
and on Wednesday the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees said the event was a “manmade and entirely preventable
“It is a damning indictment of a policy meant to avoid
Australia’s international obligations,” Nai Jit Lam, the
UNHCR’s deputy regional representative for Australia, said.
“Australia has in effect created and then abandoned a
humanitarian crisis at the doorstep of the international
Authorities were attempting to remove hundreds of asylum
seekers from a detention center in Papua New Guinea on
Thursday after the Australian government closed the facility
last month. (David Gray / Reuters)
On Thursday, Australia’s immigration minister, Peter Dutton,
said he believed it was “outrageous” that people were still
living at the Manus facility after the government attempted to
“They’ve trashed the facility. They’re living in squalor,”
Dutton told local radio station 2GB. “The Australian taxpayers
have paid about $10 million for a new facility and we want
people to move.”
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on the men to
move peacefully to the new center.
“They should do so in accordance with the lawful directs of
Papua New Guinea,” he said.
Dominic Kakas, a spokesman for Papua New Guinea police,
Fairfax Media that around 50 people were at the center
“just talking to people and getting them to move out.” Kakas
said authorities were destroying rainwater tanks in an effort
to prevent a health crisis.
“We just don’t understand why they are refusing to move. The
longer they stay, people might get sick and die,” he said.
The ongoing situation on Manus and at another detention
center on the island country of Nauru have become contentious
political issues in Australia, sparking a string of
protests, including a rally that effectively shut
down parts of Melbourne earlier this month.
Some have launched ongoing calls for Turnbull to allow the
detainees to resettle in the country. He has repeatedly
refused, saying the strict policies have curbed dangerous
New Zealand’s new prime minister, Jacinda Arden, has offered
to accept 150 people under a deal brokered by her
predecessor, but the Australian government has been reluctant to
accept that pledge, with Turnbull saying it could open a
“back door” into his country.
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