News National Manus Island refugees told they will not be removed by force

Manus Island refugees told they will not be removed by force

Refugees and asylum seekers are pictured lined up together at the Manus Island detention centre as they resist being forced out.
Under the proposed changes, two doctors could request for an asylum seeker to be transferred from offshore detention. Photo: Supplied
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Papua New Guinea authorities have moved to assure they will not use force to remove men from the mothballed detention centre at Manus Island.

The island’s police commander David Yapu told the ABC “things are going smoothly” with 90 asylum seekers leaving Australia’s offshore processing centre yesterday.

He said about 400 men still remained inside the closed facility and vowed to stay put.

Refugees have refused to leave the Australian-run facility at Manus Island that officially closed on October 31, fearing locals near replacement accommodation located at Lorengu will attack them.

The men have been warned they would be moved by force in a two-page notice signed by the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority on Thursday with a deadline to leave on Saturday.

“You are given two days to move. If necessary, force may be used to relocate those who refuse to move voluntarily for your own sake,” it read.

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

New footage from activist group GetUp! shows the cramped and unhygienic conditions inside the closed detention centre without food, running water, electricity of medicine.

The video shows upsetting images of cramped bedrooms filled with more than 40 men in makeshift beds, toilets, showers and facets without running water and signs of anguish with the words ‘f—k my life’ painted on a front door.

Asylum seekers also showed GetUp! their efforts to collect rainwater using drainpipes into 20 rubbish bins and homemade wells into the ground to source water to drink, wash and cook with.

Kurdish journalist and Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said police and immigration authorities had destroyed shelters built to provide shade and cover from the tropical sun and rain in a post on Twitter.

“So many police mobile squad are around the prison camp. Refugees are still refusing to leave. Immigration is talking over microphone and saying you must leave,” he said on the social media platform.

UN refugee agency UNHCR Nai Jit Lam from the UN’s refugee agency told the ABC the withdrawal of critical services had created a high risk environment for all parties involved.

“From our observation so far, the services that have been withdrawn from the regional processing centre has not been adequately replaced outside of the centre itself – that’s a serious concern for us.”