Papua New Guinea authorities have cut the power and water, leaving the around 400 refugees and asylum seekers who are refusing to leave the Manus Island Detention Centre living in squalor, without electricity, running water, regular food supplies, sanitation facilities or medical treatment for the past 13 days.
As the escalating humanitarian crisis continues, the men say that they are ill, hungry, and thirsty but are refusing to leave since Australia officially closed the facility on October 31 after the PNG Supreme Court ruled the site unconstitutional, citing fears for their safety outside.
The men say that the Lorengau community to where they are being coerced to move is unsafe and the accommodation remains unfinished and uninhabitable – independent observers concur with this.
The refugees dug a well for drinking water, but police moved into the camp to puncture or remove tanks holding the refugees’ remaining supplies of drinking water.
The UN’s refugee agency has said that the situation inside the detention centre is a “humanitarian emergency” for which Australia is responsible, and that the country needs to find a “humane approach” to end the “unconscionable human suffering.”
A legal challenge to have the PNG government restore essential services to the original detention centre, on the grounds their removal breached the constitutional rights of those inside, was rejected last week.
Previous confrontations, in 2014, 2015 and this year, have led to riots and the centre being invaded: refugees have been murdered, shot and attacked with machetes, and it is feared that further attempts to forcefully remove the remaining men will lead to a bloodbath.
It is absolutely inconceivable that people can actually be treated like this in this day and age; how can anyone deny another human access to water which is the lifeblood of humanity and without which no living thing can survive. Depriving these men of water in a time when the world is focusing on providing access to water and hygienic sanitation according to the Millennium Development Goals is nothing short of criminal, as water was declared a Human Right long ago!
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