assylum-seekers

Asylum seekers claim situation worsening on Manus

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The situation at the Manus regional processing centre is worsening as refugees have been without food and electricity since the centre closed last Tuesday, according to a refugee.
Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani  described the situation as “living in a hell hole” after Broadspectrum – the company contracted by the Australian government to manage the centre – ceased operations last week.
“Some of the refugees were working so hard overnight to find water by digging holes in the ground in Oscar compound,” Boochani said.
“They dug for hours and finally found water. This water is not clean enough for people to drink, but they are boiling it on a small fire so it can be used. Another important thing is that people are struggling with starvation, and at the same time don’t feel safe in the centre or safe enough to go out because of their previous bad experiences.
“Many people are unable to sleep because of hunger and fear.”
Boochani said many refugees were at risk of contracting malaria as mosquitoes, in addition to the heat and humid weather on Manus Island, took their toll on the refugees.
He said many refugees had not eaten since last Tuesday.
“This is not a hunger strike,” Boochani said.
“It is a situation that the Australian government has created, forcing people into starvation in these harsh conditions by refusing to offer a safe place for resettlement.
“It is simply unacceptable to try to force 600 men to relocate into a small town where we are not safe and many refugees have been seriously attacked. This place is like a war zone.”
Boochani claimed on Saturday night, a refugee suffering from a suspected heart condition collapsed at the centre and was taken to the Lorengau General Hospital.
He claimed there was no proper medical equipment and medicines to treat the refugee who was taken back to the centre where he remained in a critical condition.
According to Boochani, about 600 asylum seekers were still refusing to leave the centre and would continue their peaceful protest over the closure of the centre and the decision to move them to two new camps.
They were advised by their lawyer, Ben Lomai, to remain at the centre while he sought a court order to have the supplies and services returned.
Lomai said his application seeking a court order to have services resumed at the centre would be heard by the Supreme Court in Waigani today.
Acting Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha had earlier said that the centre officially closed last Tuesday and the refugees, who opted to stay there, were  “on their own”.
“The old service provider has left and we will now be talking with the new service provider on arrangements to deal with these refugees,” Kantha said.
He said the refugees would not be forced to move and should do so voluntarily.

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