UNHCR urges humane approach on Manus island

UNHCR 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'.

UNHCR's Volker Türk briefs journalists about the increasingly complex situation on Manus Island

Declaring it was “high time” to end people’s suffering, UNHCR’s head of protection has reiterated the UN Refugee Agency’s concerns over the planned closure of the Manus Island "Regional Processing Centre".

“We call on both governments – Australia and Papua New Guinea – to exercise restraint, not to use violence and to find ways and means to resolve the current tensions peacefully,” Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, told a press briefing at Geneva’s Palais des Nations.

The 'Regional Processing Centre' on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.   © UNHCR/Vlad Sokhin

“The abrupt ending of services and the closure of the regional processing centre needs to involve the people who have been in this regional processing centre for years in a very vulnerable state – with not much hope in sight. And we urge both governments to do their upmost to resolve this situation peacefully and urgently find solutions for these most vulnerable individuals. We have been visiting Manus Island several times over the past couple of years and reported on the very dire conditions in these centres. It is really high time to bring an end to this unconscionable human suffering,” he said.

UNHCR said in a recent statement that 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.