Communication needed to solve Manus issue, says official


THE ongoing situation at the Manus regional processing centre requires rapid de-escalation and two-way communication with the asylum seekers concerned, says a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson.
Catherine Stubberfield, who is also the spokesperson for the regional representation in Canberra currently on Manus Island, told The National following the decommissioning of the Lombrum processing centre and relocation of refugees to new locations on the island that: “UNHCR maintains a frequent monitoring presence in Papua New Guinea, but has never been operationally involved in transfer or offshore processing arrangements implemented by Australia given substantial concerns about this approach from the outset.”
Stubberfield said the Australia and Papua New Guinea governments remained jointly responsible for refugees and asylum-seekers forcibly transferred to Manus.
“The ongoing situation at the Manus Island centre requires rapid de-escalation and two-way communication with the refugees and asylum-seekers concerned.
“Greater understanding is needed for the perspectives of these vulnerable human beings, who have suffered immensely.
“Forced movement of these refugees and asylum-seekers is inappropriate and should be avoided.”
Stubberfield said no international organisation ran relief interventions on the territory of a sovereign state unilaterally and they have not yet been requested by the authorities of PNG or Australia.
Stubberfield was responding to media questions on what UNHCR should do to help the asylum in their current situation.
“If UNHCR was asked by the relevant countries to assist, we would consider this under the humanitarian imperative and only on a strictly temporary basis until adequate accommodation and services are in place,” she said.