Published: Sun, November 05, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Cory Rios

Australian rally over 'unsafe conditions' for Manus refugees

Australian rally over 'unsafe conditions' for Manus refugees

Turnbull is also expected to come under pressure when New Zealand's newly elected prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, pays a first official visit to Australia on Sunday.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers in an Australian offshore detention camp on Papua New Guinea are hunkering down and refusing to leave.

The remote Manus Island centre has been a key part of Australia's disputed immigration policy under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, detaining them instead in PNG and Nauru in the South Pacific.

"Australia blocking but has no right to say no", he wrote on Twitter.

Australia has an obligation to do so under worldwide human rights law and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, he said.

Colville joined the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in warning of an "unfolding humanitarian emergency" in the centre where asylum seekers began digging wells on Thursday to try to find water as their food supplies dwindled. Among them are about 90 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, about 200 men from Iran, and others from Afghanistan, Somalia and Pakistan. "President Steinmeier should ask Turnbull to bring the men on Manus Island to safety", said Elaine Pearson, HRW's Australia director, said in a statement to Germany's DPA news agency. Below is a cartoon by Eaten Fish, who has been detained on Papua New Guinea for more than four years.

Since it was opened, the Australian-run camp on Manus Island has been under near constant scrutiny and criticism by human rights groups about everything from the poor state of its basic infrastructure to allegations of torture and mismanagement, astonishing rates of trauma and mental illness, and six deaths including one murder by a local resident.

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"We urge both governments to communicate clearly to the refugees and related categories of person residing at the Centre, and the public, on the roadmap for addressing the immediate and long-term concerns, including identifying practical solutions for resettlement".

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam accuses Australia of abandoning them, and hopes New Zealand will offer them sanctuary. "You can't keep political hostages".

Officials from Australia and Papua New Guinea closed the Manus Island camp on October 31, after Papua New Guinea's High Court ruled a year ago that conditions at the detention center violated the country's constitution.

"It's a challenging situation for Australia, they face issues that we don't in New Zealand", he said.

Australia entered into an agreement during Barack Obama's administration for about 1,200 of those detained to be resettled in the U.S.

New Zealand says it will accept up to 150 refugees from the offshore detention centers, but Australia has repeatedly refused the offer.

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