Tue, Nov 14, 2017 - Page 6 News List

PNG threatens to forcibly remove asylum seekers

Reuters, SYDNEY

Asylum seekers protest at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea yesterday.

Photo: EPA / Refugee Action Coalition

Papua New Guinea (PNG) authorities yesterday were to take steps to forcibly remove about 450 men who remain in an abandoned Australian detention center without food or running water, PNG Minister of Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas said.

Hundreds of men have barricaded themselves into the Manus Island center for more than 13 days without regular food or water supplies, defying attempts by Australia and PNG to close the facility, saying they fear for their safety if removed to transit centers.

“We will be taking steps with relevant authorities to move the residents based on serious exposure to health risk for the food of everyone that is remaining,” Thomas said in a statement issued late on Sunday.

As of 5pm yesterday, no moves had been made by the government to remove the men, several asylum seekers inside the center said via e-mail.

One of the asylum seekers barricaded inside the center said that water supplies have been destroyed after PNG workers entered the site and drained rainwater collected in tanks and garbage bins.

“Immigration came and bored holes in the water tanks where we had been collecting rain water,” he said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from authorities. “They also demolished the well we built.”

Running water and electricity to the center were disconnected two weeks ago after Australian security withdrew and the camp closed on Oct. 31. The center had been declared illegal by a PNG Court.

The UN has warned of a “looming humanitarian crisis” among the asylum seekers, who are drawn largely from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria.

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