Refugees and asylum seekers holding up banners during a protest at the Manus Island immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea. Photo: AAP

SYDNEY,  6 November 2017 (Reuters) – Australia turned down on Sunday an offer to take 150 asylum seekers being held in an Australian-run detention centre in Papua New Guinea, where UN officials have warned a humanitarian emergency is unfolding.

About 600 men have barricaded themselves inside the camp on remote Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, defying efforts by Australia and PNG to shut it. Food, running water and medical services were cut off by Australia five days ago.

Australian authorities want the men moved to a transit centre elsewhere on the island at the start of a process the asylum seekers fear will result in them being resettled in PNG or another developing nation. The men also fear violent reprisals from the local community.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday her country was willing to take 150 asylum seekers from among those held on Manus Island and another camp on the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru.

Her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, however, said Canberra preferred to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former US President Barack Obama last year. Under that deal, up to 1,250 asylum seekers could be sent to the United States and Australia would in turn accept refugees from Central America.

“We want to pursue those, conclude those arrangements, and then in the wake of that obviously we can consider other ones,” Turnbull told Ardern during a media conference in Sydney.

Relocating the men on Manus Island is designed as a temporary measure, allowing the United States time to complete vetting of asylum seekers. [more]

Australia Turns Down New Zealand Offer to Take Asylum Seekers From Manus Island Camp


By Dan McCulloch
6 November 2017

(Australian Associated Press) – Malcolm Turnbull is urging refugees and asylum seekers holed up inside the Manus Island detention centre to move to alternative accommodation, criticising those he suspects of encouraging the men not to budge.

A week since the Manus Island compound was shut down to comply with a 2016 court ruling, almost 600 men remain barricaded inside the mothballed centre.

They are adamant it's safer to remain than risk being attacked by locals at new accommodation sites near the main township of Lorengau.

"There are alternative facilities available of a very high quality with food and all of the (other) facilities," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Tuesday.

"The residents at Manus, the RPC, they are being asked to move and they should move."

The prime minister's intervention comes as the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court rejected a bid for the resumption of electricity, food, medical care, and water supplies to the camp. [...]

Ben Lomai, the lawyer for the group, lodged an application in the PNG Supreme Court on Monday, arguing for services and utilities to be restored based on human rights grounds.

An appeal may be lodged as early as Wednesday. [more]

Turnbull urges men on Manus Island to move


6 November 2017 (AAP) – From the tropical hellhole of the Manus Island detention centre, to snowy Canada, a refugee in limbo for four years has found a backdoor to start a new life.

Iranian man Amir Taghinia flew from Papua New Guinea last Thursday to Coquitlam, Canada.

The 24-year-old was one of the 600-odd men barricaded inside the mothballed detention centre since it closed on Tuesday, too scared they'll be attacked by locals if they move to alternative accommodation on the island. They're running out of water, medication and food.

Australian-citizen Wayne Taylor, his wife Linda Taylor and a group of Coquitlam residents have rallied to support Mr Taghinia's resettlement under Canada's private sponsorship scheme.

The Taylors' daughter Chelsea met Mr Taghinia during her time as a healthcare worker on Manus Island.

The family spent the past 22 months working with the Canadian and Australian governments to allow the resettlement.

Mr Taghinia is still in disbelief.

"My soul is on Manus Island," he told AAP on the phone from Canada.

"As long as there are people there I can't really rest, I can't have a feeling of relief. I need every single one of those guys off the island." [more]

'They are dying there': Manus refugee finds backdoor to new life in Canada

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