Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Papua New Guinea police entered the former Australian-run detention center, Manus Island, in an attempt to remove asylum seekers who remain at the site.
Australia's immigration minister, Peter Dutton, confirmed a "police operation" at the former detention center, as refugees reported large numbers of police officers had entered the facility and gave them an hour to leave.
"They had a really big microphone in their hands and started telling people 'you have to move,'" refugee Abdul Aziz Adam told the BBC.
He also said about 420 asylum seekers had gathered together in one section of the center where many linked arms and would "not respond" to police inside.
Papua New Guinea Immigration authorities permanently closed the center and shut off its water and electricity on Oct. 31. About 600 refugees refused to leave due to fear of being attacked by the local community.
Dutton described the refugees as " living in squalor" and said it was "outrageous" that any of them remained in the center.
"The Australian taxpayers have paid about $10m for a new facility and we want people to move," he said.
"They should obey the law and the lawful authorities of Papua New Guinea," he said. "There are alternative facilities that have been made available with food, water, security, and medical services."
The United Nation's refugee agency said parts of the alternative accomodation remained "under construction," lacked proper security and didn't provide "the most basic services" including medical care.
Amnesty International said there is "no justification for this action" and the police operation is "knowingly placing the refugees at risk."