Police boss issues appeal to refugees at Lombrum

Police Commissioner Gari Baki is appealing to the 328 refugees still residing at Lombrum to be considerate and voluntarily relocate to their new camps.

At these camps, they will not miss out on anything, says Commissioner Baki.

“A total of 50 people were peacefully relocated from the Lombrum based Regional Processing Centre to either of the two recently declared immigration centres on Manus Island,” he states.

“Of this number, 36 non-refugees and 13 refugees left voluntarily after being briefed and convinced by PNG Government officials whilst one Kurdish journalist, Behrouz Boochani, was escorted out of the centre by government officials.

“I am glad that this relocation exercise was done peacefully and without use of force. Kurdish journalist Boochani was not arrested, nor was he charged. He was stirring up trouble and telling the other refugees not to move out of the centre so police and officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority simply escorted him out of the decommissioned centre and transported him to the East Lorengau Refugee Centre where he now remains.”

The Commissioner says people have been ‘jumping up and down’ about the treatment of the refugees, which is nothing but the best so far.

“Critics are failing to acknowledge the pressure, stress and strain the refugees are placing on PNG government officials on Manus as well as the local Manus people.

“We have 10 immigration officials and 50 policemen on Manus trying to manage more than 600 refugees whilst at the same time, attend to ongoing law and order issues on the island province,” points out the police boss.

“We are doing the best we can and the refugees cannot continue to be stubborn and defiant. The fact is that we are not moving them into the jungle. They are being relocated to two centres where there is water, electricity, food and medical services.

“The current centre was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Consequently, Minister for Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas decommissioned the Regional Processing Centre at Lombrum and declared two new immigration centres.

“When the Lombrum RPC was decommissioned, water and power was disconnected. Food supply was also stopped. Water, power and food are available for the refugees at the two new centres.”

Baki further questions why the asylum seekers are being stubborn.

“We now have a grave concern for the health of the refugees remaining at Lombrum. The health authorities have cautioned against the outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

“I find that concerns raised by the refugees about their safety and security at the new centres are unfounded. Manus is a peaceful island and I am sure it is a walk in the park compared to what they left behind in their respective countries.”

The police boss is urging churches, international organisations and the media to refocus their attention and take a much wider appreciation of the Manus Regional Processing Centre and its impact, not just on the refugees but also of the local Manusians as well.

“Manus and its people will never be the same again.”

(File picture of protesting asylum seekers on Manus)

Press release