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UNHCR warns of escalating crisis on Manus Island

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UNHCR warns of escalating crisis on Manus Island

8 August 2017
Papua New Guinea. UNHCR supports asylum-seekers' struggle for fair treatment
Asylum-seekers sit outside their housing units at the regional processing centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is gravely concerned by deteriorating conditions at the Manus Island ‘Regional Processing Centre’, as authorities seek to relocate people to Lorengau or elsewhere in Papua New Guinea. The announcement of the closure of the Centre, in the absence of appropriate alternatives, is causing acute distress among refugees and asylum-seekers. UNHCR is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young refugee yesterday, which also highlights the precarious situation for vulnerable people on Manus Island. 

The planned closure of the Centre, along with the announced withdrawal of current medical care, torture and trauma support and security services by October 2017, is exacerbating a highly stressful situation for the 773 people who remain on Manus Island. Many fear for their safety outside the Centre, particularly in the wake of several violent incidents in recent years. 

To prevent further tragedies and an escalation of the crisis, the planned closure of the Manus Island ‘Regional Processing Centre’ must only take place in the context of continued critical services, and in line with Australia’s ongoing responsibility for the refugees and asylum-seekers it has transferred to Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Any further reduction of fundamental support for refugees and asylum-seekers transferred by Australia to Papua New Guinea would add to the serious health and security risks of people who have been in detention over the last four years.

UNHCR renews its call for Australia to urgently find viable, humane solutions outside of Papua New Guinea and Nauru for those remaining under offshore processing arrangements.


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UNHCR Regional Representation in Canberra
UNHCR’s Regional Representation is based in Canberra, and is responsible for the promotion and protection of refugee rights in Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.