UNHCR concerned about the Manus Island disturbance

Briefing Notes, 18 February 2014

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 18 February 2014, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is very concerned about the recent developments on Manus Island in which one asylum-seeker reportedly lost his life and several others were reported injured. We are in discussions with the Australian Government and welcome their commitment to investigate these events.

Based on three visits to Manus Island, the latest in November 2013, UNHCR has consistently raised issues around the transfer arrangements and on the absence of adequate protection standards and safeguards for asylum seekers and refugees in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Significant shortcomings in the legal framework for receiving and processing asylum-seekers from Australia remain, including lack of national capacity and expertise in processing, and poor physical conditions. We also highlighted that detention practices are harmful to the physical and psycho-social well-being of transferees, particularly families and children.

UNHCR stands ready to work with the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea on how best to ensure that asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons receive appropriate protection.

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