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Asylum seekers barricaded inside Papua New Guinea camp, await court ruling

01 Novembre 2017

The 600 men refusing to leave the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea have been told they must leave the facility. Australia refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, detaining them in camps in PNG and Nauru in the South Pacific. "The situation is getting worse as power and water is cut". A ruling is expected on Wednesday.

Refugee Abdul Aziz Adam is 24-years-old and has lived on Manus for more than four years. The United Nations and rights groups have for years cited human rights abuses among detainees in the centres.

Australia has said those detainees not resettled in the United States will be allowed to stay in PNG or Nauru.

Detainees have consistently raised concerns over how they are treated by locals and authorities in PNG, a country that ranks 154th out of 185 on the United Nations Human Development Index.

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment on the departure of the Australian-employed security staff on Manus, but said the camp's closure would proceed.

They say they do not feel safe at the alternative accommodation that is being provided.

PNG has said that Australia, which has promised to spend up to A$250 million ($195 million) to house the men for the next 12 months, must take responsibility.

The more than 600 refugees and asylum seekers who remain inside the compound in Papua New Guinea have little water left and their electricity generators have either been switched off or let run out of fuel.

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Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop urged the men to leave the detention centre and to move to one of the other three other accommodation centres. Video images shot by the refugees and sent to Reuters show vans loaded with furniture departing, though it is not clear where the vehicles were from.

Sudanese refugee, Abdul Aziz Adam said numerous detainees didn't sleep at all last night and remain fearful of what will happen today.

"I take it as confirmation that I'm on the right track and I should keep on exposing the truth about what's happening on Manus Island". "It is 31ºC today and drinking water will be cut off".

The closure was announced after a PNG court ruled the detention facility was unconstitutional.

PNG's High Court ruled previous year that the Manus center, first opened in 2001, was illegal.

The bulk of the detainees come from war-torn countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Australia's tough offshore detention policies are backed by its two biggest political parties, although community opinion is divided.

"PNG has no obligation under the current arrangement to deal with these two cohorts and they remain the responsibility of Australia to pursue third-country options and liaise with respective governments of the non-refugees for their voluntary or involuntary return", Mr Thomas said.