UNHCR Urges Humane Approach on Manus Island

Manus Island 'Regional Processing Centre'.  © UNHCR

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging the authorities of Papua New Guinea to show calm and restraint in the context of the closure of the Manus Island ‘Regional Processing Centre’. The Government of Papua New Guinea, and particularly the Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority, have made commendable efforts over the past four years to care for and protect refugees in difficult circumstances. UNHCR is urging that a humane approach is taken now in an increasingly complex situation.

Over 500 refugees and asylum-seekers remain at the ‘Regional Processing Centre’, becoming more and more vulnerable. After over a week with no provision of food and water, and poor sanitation without electricity, their physical and mental health is precarious.

Forced movement of these refugees and asylum-seekers is inappropriate and should be avoided. The ongoing situation at the Manus Island ‘Regional Processing Centre’ requires rapid de-escalation and dialogue with the refugees and asylum-seekers concerned.

“Greater understanding is needed for the perspectives of these vulnerable human beings, who have already suffered immensely”, said Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR’s Regional Representative in Canberra. “People who have experienced unspeakable persecution and human rights violations need protection, not punishment.” 

Australia has a responsibility to urgently find appropriate long-term solutions for all who have sought its protection.

Media Enquiries

Catherine Stubberfield, +61 424 545 569, stubberf@unhcr.org