Refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island will be moved to an abandoned building and live in tents on malaria-infested swampland, sources have exclusively told The New Daily.
More than 700 men remain at the offshore processing centre as the facility prepares to close on October 31, following a Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ruling it was illegal.
A source from PNG, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, exclusively told The New Daily the men would be moved to an abandoned site on the outskirts of Lorengau township.
The building, part-owned by Governor of Manus province Charlie Benjamin, has no electricity and has unfinished plumbing, the source claimed. It was built to house just 70 people. About 700 others will be expected to live in tents on a malaria-infested swamp, the source claimed.
The New Daily contacted the Department of Immigration but a spokesperson declined to answer questions.
The site has been fenced off and workers have begun clearing overgrowth, the source said. Military-style tents, like those used at the Australian-run centre on Nauru, were in transit to the site.
Photos supplied to The New Daily show machinery at the site clearing thick overgrowth.
The source said the building was brought from a PNG mainland mining camp in 2013 and was intended to be used as a hotel or for police mobile units. It was also to house staff from the offshore processing centre, but was abandoned and never used.
It’s not known if electricity or plumbing will be connected before the men move in, or how long they are expected to live at the site.
The source said the neighbourhood had limited capacity to supply electricity, and local residents could face power outages if the building was hooked up.
The source said there was no town water supply, merely rainwater tanks. Locals are understood to be unhappy with the use of the site, which is in a residential area.
The local hospital is said to be under-resourced to care for both refugees and residents.
Refugee advocate Sarah Smith said men already suffered hallucinations from taking anti-malarial medication each week. She said the men had become a danger to themselves and others as a result.
Services contracted by the Australian Border Force were expected to leave Manus Island on October 31.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection reported there were 773 men at the Manus Island processing centre as at 31 August.
Outside of their living arrangements, the future of the men remains unclear. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull negotiated a refugee-deal with the US, but in a phone call with President Donald Trump, Mr Turnbull admitted the US had no obligation to take any refugees under the deal, according to a leaked transcript.
The New Daily has also contacted Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton and attempted to reach Mr Benjamin for comment.
-additional reporting by Farrah Plummer