2 Nov 2017

Manus Island refugees dig well after PNG govt visit

1:54 pm on 2 November 2017

Desperate refugees have dug a well in the Manus Island detention centre in response to warnings they will not be allowed back if they leave.

Six hundred refugees are refusing to leave the centre which officially closed on Tuesday, saying they fear for their safety if they move to new locations in Lorengau town.

The governments of Australia and PNG are urging them to move on while their lawyers try to restore power, food and water services to the centre.

According to the Post Courier, PNG's Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha visited the centre yesterday.

He gave a message that if refugees leave to seek conveniences outside the centre, they won't get back in.

Mr Kantha said the new sites in Lorengau had water, food, power and access to medical care.

He said buses were on standby throughout the day to transport those willing to move out voluntarily.

So far only a small number of refugees have moved from the centre.

"Everything is shut down and they are prone to a lot of uncertainties in terms of security. If anything happens to them at Lombrum, we are not in a position and are not obligated to assist them, but on humanitarian basis we will assist," said Mr Kantha.

He said he met with Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and discussed concerns among locals about the refugees and non-refugees entering the new site.

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 biggest concern is in terms of security and this is the same concern raised by refugees and non refugees at Lombrum as well," said the Chief Migration Officer.

"We will speak to the contractor at the site to ensure adequate security and fencing is provided."

He said curfew hours could be introduced to establish limited movement.

He indicated PNG's Defence Force would now want to protect the assets in place at the Lombrum detention centre, which belong to the PNG navy.

Meanwhile, the refugees say the water in their well is fresh.

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