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Australian government to find humane solutions for refugees in Manus Island

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FILE - An undated image released Nov. 13, 2017, shows detainees staging a protest inside the compound at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea. (Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via Reuters)
FILE - An undated image released Nov. 13, 2017, shows detainees staging a protest inside the compound at the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea. (Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via Reuters). VOA
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The U.N. refugee agency is calling on the Australian government to find humane solutions for hundreds of refugees it has abandoned in a precarious situation on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

UNHCR accuses the Australian government of shirking its responsibilities to care for and protect some 800 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

It says the situation has become more precarious for the refugees since the government closed its so-called offshore processing facility at the end of October. Over the past four weeks, it notes, refugees who were moved to three new accommodation sites have been attacked several times. The worst case involved three people armed with machetes and an axe.

UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile Pouilly, says local hostility and resentment against the refugees is high and growing. She told VOA the Australian authorities must resolve this critical situation.

“We are talking here about people who have suffered extreme trauma and now are feeling so insecure in these places where they are staying. There are many victims of torture. People who have been deeply traumatized have been detained, having no idea what is going to happen next to them. I think this mental issue, this psychological issue is a major one,” Pouilly said.

A recent medical report commissioned by UNHCR finds the cumulative effect of uncertainty about their future is causing a deterioration in the mental and physical health of the refugees.

It warns cessation of services, substandard living and hygiene conditions and inadequate medical care are increasing violence and self-harm among the refugees. (VOA)

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Drone Delivery Project by Google All Set to ‘Take off’ in Australia

Up to 30 businesses were expected to take part in the first trial

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A Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

Australia is set to become “the most advanced country in the world” in drone delivery when the first commercial service by Google starts operations in 2019.

Wing, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, on Thursday announced that its commercial drone home-delivery service would launch in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) next year, reports Xinhua news agency.

The drones will travel at speeds of up to 125 km per hour and will deliver small packages, including cups of coffee, to homes within 5 km of the company’s base in Mitchell in the northern suburbs of Canberra.

James Ryan Burgess, CEO of Wing, said that the 12-rotor drones, which were designed to guarantee safety, weigh 4.5 kg each and can carry packages weighing up to 1.5 kg.

On-the-ground, operators will supervise multiple flights at a time as the drones fly to their destination automatically.

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Google’s drone delivery project set to ‘take off’ in Australia. Pixabay

“We have high levels of automation and so the aircraft themselves are doing a lot of the determining of what is safe, and making sure that they are monitoring themselves to be healthy. If there are any anomalies or any problems, the aircraft actually take action themselves before even a human could react and are able to execute safe contingency actions,” Burgess told the media.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re able to perform such quick service and get people (their) packages within just a few minutes… The system can take off right away when the customer places an order.”

Moreover, a supervisor can quickly take control of a drone if necessary.

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Up to 30 businesses were expected to take part in the first trial.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has worked with Wing since 2014 to ensure safety and will use the results of the trial to guide future drone regulations. (IANS)