600 refugees refuse to leave closing Manus Island detention center

By Daniel Uria  |  Oct. 30, 2017 at 11:57 PM
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Oct. 30 (UPI) -- A group of 600 refugees have refused to leave a detention center in Papua New Guinea scheduled to permanently close on Tuesday.

Papua New Guinea Immigration authorities issued a final notice to the refugees stating that power and water will be cut off from the Manus Island center at 5 p.m. local time, as all immigration staff will depart and anyone remaining will be liable for removal from an active military base.

The closure of the center was announced after a court ruled the facility was unconstitutional and the detainees were urged to move to alternative accommodation at three sites in the main town of Lorengau.

The remaining refugees have held peaceful protests and taken legal action, claiming their constitutionally protected human rights have been breached.

Ben Lomai, a lawyer representing the refugees, was expected lodge a legal application on Tuesday morning.

In addition to having their water and electricity cut off, the detainees expressed concerns about how they would buy necessities such as food and medicine after exiting the center.

Some they feared police retaliation or violence from locals who had previously attacked the center.

Amnesty International Pacific researcher Kate Shuetze said there is "no real plan" for the refugees to rebuild their lives outside the center.

"We haven't heard anything from the Papua New Guinean government as to whether these men would be allowed to work in the community and whether they're freely able to move around the country," Shuetze said. "In fact, we're hearing the opposite and all the indications around these new centers and the security around these new centers indicate that they're moving them from one prison to another with no logical rationale behind it."

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