Manus Island: Fear and squalor inside detention centre as deadline to leave approaches
Asylum seekers and refugees inside the Manus Island detention centre are “extremely scared” as workers tear down the fences around the compound and a deadline for them to be forcibly evicted approaches.
Those inside the camp now have just one day left to vacate the site before they could be forcibly removed.
PNG Immigration officials have warned the hundreds of men still inside the detention centre they must leave the centre immediately because of “unhygienic conditions”.
Journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani said yesterday: “I can feel in refugees’ faces and voices that they are extremely scared.”
@BehrouzBoochani: “Hundreds of hungry, half-naked, powerless men are asking people around the world to support them. Manus prison camp is so scary at this moment.”
A notice put up by PNG authorities warns “force may be used to relocate those who refuse to move voluntarily”.
“You cannot continue to remain here in this condition,” the notice says.
“It is very bad for your health and wellbeing if you continue to refuse to move to your new accommodation where there is food, water and other services.”
About 470 men are still in the detention centre 10 days after it was officially closed and food, power and water supplies cut off, saying they fear for their safety at the new facilities.
Provincial Police Commander David Yapu told the ABC that about 50 men left the detention centre yesterday, and around 80 left on Friday.
Despite the warning, several of the asylum seekers said on social media that they still would not leave the site.
New footage released by the activist group GetUp showed the squalid conditions inside the camp, where hundreds of men have been living without power, water or food supplies.
Boochani tweeted on Friday that police and immigration staff came into the centre and “were destroying our shelters in Delta”.
“They destroyed the rubbish bins where we have been collecting water too,” he tweeted.
“Inside the rooms is very hot without power for fans. We built these shelters to provide shade & cover from tropical sun & rain.”
Yesterday, workers began removing the high security fences around the centre and PNG Immigration authorities warned the safety of the men inside “is not guaranteed”.
@StefArmbruster: “We don’t want to move”. #Refugees protest on #Manus after security fences removed (visible in footage) and 48-hours notice to leave or face force. Via #ManusAlert #auspol #PNG
An asylum seeker who filmed a PNG official was told to leave the detention centre and “go back to your own country”.
In the footage, the official said the asylum seeker was “not a refugee” and has “a criminal record”.
“When we go, the soldiers will do it to you,” the official said, pointing at the person behind the camera.
‘They are effectively squatting,’ Pyne says
Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne has dismissed concerns about the Manus Island stand-off, saying the refugees who remain in the centre are squatting.
“All those people in Manus Island who are at that detention centre are effectively squatting there,” Mr Pyne said.
“They could go to East Lorengau, West Lorengau, Hillside House. They could go to Nauru, the United States, they could go home to their own countries — and many in fact have done so.”
But the men say it is not safe for them to leave the facility.
“The police already, they beat some of the refugees and the local people. They attack the refugees and rob them. This place is not a safe place,” Mr Boochani said last week as power, water and food supplies were cut off.
Meanwhile, a lawyer representing one of the refugees has lodged an appeal against the Supreme Court’s denial of an application for an order to restore basic services to the detention centre.