UNHCR urges Aust to protect refugees

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, continues to urge Australia to ensure protection, assistance and solutions for refugees on Manus Island.

A transcript revealed by Nai Jit Lam, UNHCR’s Deputy Regional Representative in Canberra (on mission to Manus Island) states that refugees are still facing humanitarian threats.

The UNHCR had appealed to Australia in October to stop a humanitarian emergency unfolding on Manus Island, where the closure of the Regional Processing Centre on 31 October and imminent discontinuation of critical services and support arrangements threaten safety and well-being of hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who remain there in very difficult conditions.

Approximately 3,000 refugees and asylum-seekers have been forcibly transferred by Australia to ‘offshore processing’ facilities, including Manus and Nauru. 900 were sent to Manus.

The UNCHR claims that the current issue on Manus Island is the consequence of the problem that was created four years ago, when Australia forcibly transferred people, refugees and asylum seekers to PNG and Nauru under their offshore policy.

The UNCHR is calling for Australia to take responsibility and play an active role in achieving solutions.

UNHCR representative, Nai Jit Lam, who travelled into Manus earlier this week, said it’s been three weeks since the closure of the regional processing centre on 31 October and the situation on the ground is very serious, and it is deteriorating by the day.

He said 300 refugees and asylum seekers continue to remain in what is now the decommissioned processing centre.

The refugees and asylum seekers still refuse to be moved and the standoff continues.

(File picture of Manus asylum seekers protesting) 

Imelda Wavik