Australia urges Manus Island refugees to leave detention centre

1:18 pm on 2 November 2017

The stand off on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island continues as 600 refugees refuse to leave the detention centre.

The 93rd day of protest in the Manus Island detention centre, 1-11-17.

The 93rd day of protest in the Manus Island detention centre, 1-11-17. Photo: supplied

The Australian government is urging them to move on while their lawyers try to restore power, food and water services to the centre.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop told the ABC services were available for the refugees in alternate buildings in the island's main town.

"It makes no sense for these people to remain on Manus Island because the essential services have been transferred to alternative accommodation," she said.

"So I urge them to go to the alternative accommodation where there'll be food, water, electricity and medical services."

Ben Lomai waits outside the Supreme Court Registry for his case to be called.

Ben Lomai waits outside the Supreme Court Registry for his case to be called. Photo: Facebook / Ben Lomai

But the refugees' lawyer Ben Lomai said he was hopeful the PNG Supreme Court would grant an urgent hearing today of his application to restore services at the detention centre.

"We are currently in standby mode right now. The application has been filed and then the chief justice will appoint a single Supreme Court judge or appoint a three man bench to hear the application," he said.

"I'm actually going around with my gown, so as soon as they call me anywhere I can go straight into court."

Without power, the refugees spent last night in darkness, being attacked by mosquitos, with no fans to counter the oppressive equatorial heat.

Kurdish journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani said authorities were gambling with the detainees' health.

"They took the generator and the situation really is critical at this moment. There is no water for shower and toilet, and also there is no water for drinking."

The refugees collected rainwater, however, and boiled it over open fires.

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam said they were resolved to stay, despite fears soldiers would storm the centre.

"So we have saved some water and it may last maybe for a couple of days," he said.

"But we are determined not to leave. It doesn't matter if they cut the oxygen, we will stay in here."

But without food Iranian refugee Farhad Rahmati suggested the men's resolve would be tested.

Refugees boiling rainwater.

Refugees boiling rainwater. Photo: supplied

"Since yesterday, no food. We don't have anything here right now and we are going to starve."

Sri Lankan refugee Thanus Selvarasa said Canberra was also inflicting harm on the refugees' families.

"I ask one question (to) all Australian politicians. If you had family, if you had children without water, without electricity, how you are feeling?"

Abdul Aziz Adam

Abdul Aziz Adam Photo: Facebook / Abdul Aziz Adam

Abdul Aziz Adam said refugees did not want to return to the country where they sought asylum.

"We don't want to go to Australia. We want to go to a country where they can open their arms and say welcome, and hug us instead of just punching us in the face."

Staff employed by Australia left the centre on Tuesday, but security guards were posted at the gate yesterday to stop looting.

They also blocked another visit by Australian senator Nick McKim and a news crew.

The senator had said the alternative buildings were not ready to receive the men, and reportedly the PNG immigration service told refugees yesterday they were not yet required to leave the detention centre.

After a string of machete attacks by locals, the refugees are afraid to move into Lorengau.

The former MP for Manus Province, Ron Knight, said there was a history of bad blood between refugees and Manusians.

"The people in the community in Lorengau do not want them to be residing next to their women and children," he said.

But local leader Ben Wamoi said Manusians had sympathy for the refugees.

"We further demand Australia not to abandon the asylum seekers in Manus without life support essentials, nor compel the PNG government to use its police mobile force to transfer asylum seekers out of Lombrum into Lorengau."