22 Feb 2018

PNG resettlement impossible for Manus refugees - advocate

7:11 am on 22 February 2018

An advocate says the arrest of nine Manus Island refugees in Port Moresby on Tuesday shows men detained in Papua New Guinea by Australia cannot be resettled there.

Papua New Guinea police.

Papua New Guinea police. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

The men were captured during an early morning police raid at Aku Lodge, where they'd been living for up to two years as part of a resettlement process.

The nine refugees were taken to the airport to be returned to Manus Island, but after a problem with their plane they were moved to another Port Moresby hotel where they are now being held.

They were expected to be returned to Manus in the coming days.

The advocate Ian Rintoul said nothing resembling a resettlement programme was put in place for the men, who lived in Aku Lodge without jobs, welfare or trauma counselling.

He said their forced relocation back to Manus confirmed there were no resettlement arrangements in PNG, contrary to claims made by the Australian government.

In 2016, there was an attempt to resettle six refugees in Lae but the men were unable to stay, the advocate said.

Without jobs, healthcare or safety in Lae, three of the refugees made their way back to Manus and attempted to move back into the detention centre, he said.

The Manus Island detention centre.

The Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

"There is no resettlement in PNG, and the shonky US deal will not provide resettlement places for all the refugees on Manus and Nauru," Mr Rintoul said.

"There is an urgent need for all the asylum seekers and refugees to be brought to Australia, where they can get the safety and protection they need."

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