By Ben Doherty
10 November 2017

(The Guardian) – Papua New Guinean immigration officials and police have started destroying makeshift shelters built by about 600 refugees and asylum seekers who refuse to relocate from the now closed Manus Island detention centre.

The initial efforts to dismantle the camp started on Friday, a day before a slated deadline for forcible removal that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill warned of on Thursday.

Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani said: “Police and immigration destroyed our shelters. Inside the rooms is very hot with power for fans. We built these shelters to provide shade and cover from tropical sun and rain.”

Boochani told the Guardian the officials pulled down shelters in Oscar camp and then left, before returning to destroy the same facilities in Delta compound. They also destroyed the rubbish bins that were used to store water. The raids passed without violence, he said.

Thunderstorms are predicted for Manus Island with the temperature hitting 30C and high humidity.

Almost 60 refugees and asylum seekers had already voluntarily boarded buses and trucks to be taken to new accommodation on Friday as a result of the operation, said Police Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas.

“Police and military personnel from the naval base … are at the centre facilitating the smooth and orderly movement of refugees to their new location. Progress of the relocation is going well and smoothly,” he said.

Manus province police commander David Yapu said the relocation of refugees and asylum seekers would be “conducted smoothly and orderly without use of force”. […]

Australia’s department of immigration has said that the men who are refusing to leave the detention centre were doing so voluntarily. “We categorically reject all claims that this represents a ‘humanitarian emergency’ as has been alleged in some quarters. Refugees and failed asylum seekers staying at the RPC [regional processing centre] site are making an informed choice to do so, and have been provided with information and assurances from the PNG government that facilities are ready and waiting at alternative locations.”

The 600 men refusing to leave and settle in new accommodation in the Manus community say they are not safe in the local community. Independent observers say the proposed new housing is inadequate and unfinished.

New footage showing the cramped and unhygienic conditions inside the detention centre has emerged. The United Nations high commissioner for refugees has described the situation there as a “humanitarian emergency”. […]

GetUp’s human rights co-director, Shen Narayanasamy, who spent time inside the now-closed detention centre, said death or serious illness was inevitable in coming days.

“The conditions are appalling and it’s obvious you wouldn’t choose to stay here if you thought you could be safer elsewhere.

“There is a great threat of violence from the PNG army, and the Manus island community has made it very clear it doesn’t want the men to move into accommodation closer to town.” [more]

Manus Island police begin destroying shelters housing refugees


Papua New Guinean officials and police take away makeshift shelters built by refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island on Friday, 10 November 2017. Photo: The Guardian

By Ben Westcott and Hilary Whiteman
10 November 2017

(CNN) – Authorities have started to dismantle the detention center on Manus Island, as an estimated 600 refugees and asylum seekers refuse to leave the site amid an ongoing week long standoff.

Almost 60 people have voluntarily left the center on buses that had been waiting outside to take them to new facilities, according to a statement Friday from Papua New Guinea (PNG) police.

The operation, codenamed "Helpim Friends," would use buses and trucks to transport the refugees to their new centers "without (the) use of force," Manus Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector David Yapu said in the statement.

He added police would deal with any situations which arose during the transfer "in a professional manner."
On Thursday, PNG police told the refugees remaining in the formerly Australian-run center they had two days to get out or they would be forced to leave. [more]

Authorities start operation to remove 600 refugees from Manus Island center

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