18 Apr 2013

Australia criticised for lack of progress on Manus asylum seekers

7:26 pm on 18 April 2013

A refugee activist says Australia's failure to start processing asylum seekers' claims for refugee status, despite assurances, is fuelling tensions at its detention camp in Papua New Guinea.

A spokesperson for the Australia-based Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul says that on March the 13th the Australian Immigration Department told asylum seekers on Manus Island their refugee assessments would begin in two or three weeks.

But Mr Rintoul says there has been no sign of any processing happening.

"Absolutely nothing has happened and people are getting more and more angry and more and more despairing. There's just been a hunger strike of 70 of the single adult males there. Two people actually stitched their lips. It's just that on top of the intolerable conditions on Manus Island, you've got an immigration department making statements about processing, which they certainly have not fulfilled in any respect whatsoever."

Ian Rintoul says meanwhile, the situation is calmer on Nauru, where the Australian Immigration Department has been interviewing asylum seekers in preparation for assessing their claims for refugee status.