Refugee Activists: Manus Refugees Future Remains Uncertain

In 2016, Australia had the biggest offshore intake of refugees since 1983.

Coming to Australia seems as though it would be safe place to call home, but many of these people are unsure of what their future holds.

During an interview, refugee activists said the men are traumatised over the ordeal.

“…after peaceful protests within the RPC, they’ve now been viscously beaten, so they are incredibly traumatised,” RANN Spokeswoman Sally Thompson said.

These refugees want to settle in Australia but are now being held at Manus Island’s Regional Processing Centre.

Reports emerged claiming they aren’t getting access to food and water, but it’s just one of the many problems.

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court has provided a closure date for the centre, with three new facilities able to accommodate 600 refugees expected to be up and running, but it remains incomplete.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton says that the Government have provided these new facilities, $30 million dollars in medical services and bus transportation around the Island, while arrangements are being made for them to be resettled around the world or be returned to their home countries.

“The men that are in Hillside don’t have freedom of movement, those in West Haus are living in a totally unfinished building. It doesn’t have power, it doesn’t have water,” Ms Thompson said.

Many of the asylum seekers don’t know if they’ll be settling in Australia, but Mr Dutton has indicated Australia’s immigration policy won’t change and they won’t be settling in Australia.

He says he doesn’t want to give them false hope.

Immigration officials, Papua New Guinea’s Police and the Australian Border Force have recently entered the camp and reportedly destroyed personal belongings and drinking water, and took people by force to the new centres.

Reufugee Rights Action Network activist Michelle Bui says refugees were forced to call off their protest to avoid further violence.

“The PNG police and immigration officials were beating people steel rods. The men were saying ‘you know we were only peacefully protesting, we don’t want to engage in any violence and that was the only reason that we’ve left because we had to surrender otherwise we would be subject to further violence,” Ms Bui said.

The Refugee Rights Action Network is calling for the Government to seriously consider third-country arrangements, with a potential 1,200 refugees resettled in the US and 150 in New Zealand but leaves so many still on Manus Island

If they are transferred to New Zealand, a visa issued upon arrival permits the right to travel from Auckland to Sydney, allowing the refugees to still come to Australia.

Ms Thompson says most of the men from Manus will not want to come to Australia after they were treated by the Federal Government.

“Speaking to the men on Manus none of them who potentially get accepted by NZ would want to come to Australia, because the way they’ve been treated by our Australian Government is so abhorrent that most of them don’t want to come here,” Ms Thompson said.

While the future is uncertain for the asylum seekers, activists are protesting nationwide and shedding light on the current situation on Manus Island.

“The men are still peacefully resisting in the new camps and I think people in Australia will continue to do the same,” Ms Bui said.

 

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