PAPUA NEW GUINEA’s Supreme Court has rejected an application to restore electricity, food, water and healthcare to an Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island.
Some 600 men have barricaded themselves into the camp since it was officially closed last week, refusing to move because they claim to be fearful of resettlement on the PNG mainland in Lorengau after numerous assaults on asylum seekers by locals.
Men in the camp have been shown digging holes in search of water and several are in need of medical help. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called upon Australia to act swiftly to end what it has called a “looming humanitarian crisis”.
On Sunday, however, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull again turned down an offer from his New Zealand counterpart Jacinta Ardern to accept 150 asylum seekers from Manus and Australia’s other detention centre in the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru.
Turnbull said Canberra preferred to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former US President Barack Obama last year. Under that deal, up to 1,250 asylum seekers could be sent to the United States and Australia will, in turn, accept refugees from Central America.
“We want to pursue those, conclude those arrangements, and then in the wake of that obviously we can consider other ones,” Turnbull told Ardern during a media conference in Sydney.
— abc730 (@abc730) November 6, 2017
Detention centres on Manus and Nauru have been key parts of Australia’s disputed “Sovereign Borders” immigration policy, under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores.
Australia’s offshore detention policies have been heavily criticised by the UN and human rights groups but are backed the centre-right government and the Labor opposition.
UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva on Friday about the “unfolding humanitarian emergency” in the Manus Island centre.
Additional reporting by Reuters