Monday, 22 May, 2017

PNG to shut parts of Manus Island detention centre 'within weeks'

Manus Island detention centre to close Refugees panic as Manus Island detention center begins to close
Angelo Anderson | 18 May, 2017, 16:33

Parts of the center, on Manus Island, will close in weeks, according to the detainees, who said they were told of the decision during a meeting Monday.

The 800 men at the facility have been told that demolition work will start soon on parts of the accommodation.

There is a possibility some detainees may die as a result of the announcement.

According to the documents obtained by the newspaper, the plan, drafted in 2016, outlined attempts to push those officially recognized as refugees to first accept resettlement to the East Lorengau transit center and then to Papua New Guinea, while forcing people without refugee status to return to their home countries.

"They could. go back to the countries they have fled from and face persecution, personal danger, arbitrary imprisonment or worse", Senator McKim told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday.

But Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Manus Island was still on track for closure at the end of October.

The 20 percent whose applications were denied were told they must return to their home countries; if they do so voluntarily, they will get 25,000 dollars from the Australian government; if not they will be sent back home anyway.

The Turnbull government's planned closure of the Manus Island immigration centre could cost lives, Australian Greens senator Nick McKim says.

Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said Australia was continuing to violate human rights.

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Mr Boochani said Manus Island was "full of tension" and refugees were "very angry" with the plan.

"Also the local people don't want the refugees in their small community because they are with a small population and traditional culture".

He told the ABC he expected there to be riots.

The Manus Island complex was slated for closure on October 31, after PNG's Supreme Court ruled it illegal a year ago.

Human rights groups and the United Nations have criticised the camp's cramped conditions, inadequate medical facilities and violence, with activists renewing calls for the centre to be immediately shut down in recent months.

The Good Friday shooting, where navy officers opened fire on the detention centre with automatic weapons, proved PNG was not safe for detainees, he said.

An unspecified number of asylum-seekers will be relocated to a transit centre, one refugee quoted the officials as having said.

Peter Dutton says the United States is not "putting roadblocks" in the way of the resettlement deal.

"(But) for a lot of refugees, we're hoping they will be eligible for the arrangement to go the U.S., but that's up to the U.S.", Dutton said.

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