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Manus Island Asylum Seekers Prepare for Centre Closure

Manus Island Asylum Seekers Prepare for Centre Closure”

Australian and Papua New Guinean must respect the rights of those affected by the proposed move and avoid exacerbating an already extremely tense situation.

For over a decade now, Manus Island has been home to hundreds of asylum seekers, held there by the Australian government as part of their offshore processing system.

The Australian-funded detention centre on Manus Island is due to close tomorrow, but the 600 men inside are refusing to move to new accommodation on the other side of the island. Australia's acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop said on Monday that Canberra was exploring possible deals for resettlement, but added "those who have found not to be refugees should go home".

Dining facilities at Lombrum have closed, with the asylum seekers relying on basic food parcels containing muesli bars, muffins, cornflakes and pre-cooked meals that they have been told will last two days. The United States has agreed to take up to possibly 1,250 refugees from Australia's two Pacific detention centres, but so far only 25 men from Manus have been resettled. It struck a deal with former US President Barack Obama for America to resettle an unspecified number of the detainees, but so far just 54 people have been notified of their acceptance and a group of only 24 have flown out.

Australia will not be allowed to walk away from legal, financial and moral responsibility for almost 800 men when it closes its asylum seeker detention centre in Papua New Guinea (PNG) on Tuesday, PNG's immigration minister said.

Many have voiced fears for their safety if they chose to stay on PNG amid reports they would not be welcomed in local neighbourhoods.

"I call on Australia to maintain the necessary health and mental health services, preferably by a local health service provider, or maintain the current arrangement between International Health and Medical Services and Pacific International Hospital", he said. "It is the responsibility of Australia to pursue third country options", he said.

Kurdish-Iran journalist Behrouz Boochani tweeted on social media that he was one of those in Lorengau who filed affidavits today supporting the Supreme Court application, which will be filed on Tuesday seeking injunctive orders.

Australia had no immediate comment.



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