UNHCR: Centre not up to par

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday July 17th, 2013

 ARRANGEMENTS for the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island do not meet international protection standards for the reception and treatment of asylum seekers, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) second report released last Friday says.

The report was released after a UNHCR team met with asylum seekers, senior officials from the governments of Papua New Guinea and Australia, and staff of key service providers at the centre from June 11-13.

It said while there were a number of improvements since the last visit, and staff were working under challenging conditions, there was still a lot of room for improvement.

“UNHCR’s inspection revealed a number of shortcomings, including that freedom of movement is still extremely limited in what continues to amount to an environment of open-ended, mandatory and, in UNHCR’s view, arbitrary detention,” it said.

“The present living conditions for asylum seekers at the temporary centre are still harsh.  

“Cramped living quarters were observed, while asylum seekers reported issues with heat, privacy, hygiene and access to medical services.

“The lack of certainty of asylum seekers’ future and the slow pace of progress to establish effective processing arrangements are contributing to an all-pervasive sense of frustration and despondency which, if left unresolved for a protracted period, is likely to lead to increased levels of psycho-social harm of those affected.”