Manus Crisis will not end with Forced Removal
The refugee crisis on Manus will not end with the forced removal of refugees and asylum seekers from the former detention centre, a fact-finding mission being conducted under the auspices of the peak body for Australia’s international aid agencies, the Australian Council for International Development, warned today.
Speaking from the island where Papua New Guinea police forcibly removed the remaining 328 men to detention centres under construction in the provincial town, the mission said the crisis had simply shifted to a new and potentially more sensitive and location.
“If Mr Turnbull and Mr Dutton think that just because the immediate impasses is over the problem is solved, they are wrong,” the leader of the delegation, Tim Costello said today. “The problem has just shifted a few kilometres. Without hope these men are still suffering, without a solution this problem goes on and it remains Australia’s responsibility.”
Oxfam’s Humanitarian Lead, Meg Quartermaine said moving the refugees who have been languishing for four and a half years from one centre was only prolonging their suffering.
“We know that these men are suffering physically and mentally. From our conversations with refugees we are hearing stories of deep sadness, these men are frightened and they don’t know what’s going to happen to them.
Ms Quartermaine said that it was a point of fact that there are not sufficient services or mental health expertise on Manus Island to adequately care for the men who have been twice traumatised, first by whatever caused them to flee and again when they were locked up for four years.
“Their future has been held in the balance for four and half years, surely that is long enough. Their well-being, their care is the responsibility of the Australian Government. Australia needs to step in and work with parties to ensure the safety and wellbeing of these men.”
ACFID CEO Marc Purcell said Australia needs to take responsibility an immediate and lasting solution is urgently needed.
“Australia needs to step up to take responsibility for the health, welfare and future of these men. At the same time the Australian Government needs to work with all other parities and immediately set up resettlement pathways for every one of these men - whether it be to the US, New Zealand, any other safe third countries or to Australia.”
Tim Costello and ACFID CEO Mark Purcell are available for interview from Manus Island.
Tim Costello can be contacted on +61 411 633 446 or ML O’Callaghan on +61 427 413 816
Meg Quartermaine can be contacted on +0420 891 121 or Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350
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