Govt praised for looking after refugees


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’s (UNHCR) regional representative in Canberra Thomas Albrecht said the Papua New Guinea Government had made commendable efforts over the past four years to care for and protect refugees in difficult circumstances.
“UNHCR is urging that a humane approach is taken now in an increasingly complex situation,” he said.
Albrecht said more than 500 refugees and asylum seekers at the centre became more and more vulnerable.
“After over a week with no provision of food and water, and poor sanitation without electricity, their physical and mental health is precarious,” he said.
“Forced movement of these refugees and asylum-seekers is inappropriate and should be avoided.
“Greater understanding is needed for the perspectives of these vulnerable human beings, who have already suffered immensely.
“People who have experienced unspeakable persecution and human rights violations need protection, not punishment.
“Australia has a responsibility to urgently find appropriate long-term solutions for all who have sought its protection.”
The United Nations country team in PNG remained gravely concerned for the welfare of the asylum-seekers.
They urged the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea to uphold their obligations under international human rights and refugee laws to respect the basic human rights of all persons concerned.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, was monitoring the situation on the ground.
No interpreters remain on Manus which means that refugees who cannot speak English face challenges in communicating and accessing services. There are insufficient medical services available for persons who need specialised support, particularly crisis emergency health services and mental healthcare support.
The UN system also urged the authorities to allow media and international humanitarian actors immediate access to inspect the facilities in full transparency, and to continue to refrain from the use of force against persons remaining in the  centre.