Australia’s abandonment of refugees unacceptable: New Zealand

November 12, 2017 2:18 am
A handout photo taken in November 2017 shows asylum seekers at the former detention center for refugees on Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea. (Via AFP)
’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has blasted for abandoning hundreds of refugees on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG), describing what is happening there as “unacceptable.”
On October 31, the Australian government abandoned around 600 male refugees at its detention center on Manus Island following a PNG court ruling that the imprisonment of the refugees at the Australian-run camp was unlawful.
Since then, many of the refugees have barricaded themselves inside the camp, refusing to move even as they have limited food supplies and no water and electricity.
Ardern, who has previously offered to accept 150 of the refugees, said on Sunday that there was “absolute need” to take action regarding the matter because “there is harm being done” to the refugees.
Australia has rejected a former offer by Ardern to take in some of the refugees.
“I see the human face of this and I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play. I think it’s clear that we don’t see what’s happening there as acceptable, that’s why the offer’s there,” New Zealand’s prime minister said in her new remarks.
Australia has been detaining the asylum seekers who attempt to reach the country by boat and had been sending some of them to Papua New Guinea. Under a controversial refugee policy known as “Sovereign Borders,” Australia also sends other such asylum seekers to another camp, in Nauru in the South Pacific, which is still operating.
Protesters chant at a Liberal Party fundraiser in Sydney on November 10, 2017, as they call on the ruling Liberal coalition government to bring back 600 refugees from an abandoned detention center in Papua New Guinea. (Photo by AFP)
On Friday, the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, urged the governments of Australia and PNG to ease the “human suffering” and aid the scared refugees holed up in the camp.
The refugees are in “a very vulnerable state with not much hope in sight,” said UN Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Turk.
PNG authorities have warned the refugees they have until this weekend to go to the new locations or face being forcibly removed.
The refugees fear reprisal by the locals in the new locations.
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