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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

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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Great Barrier Reef Faces Australian Floods Dirty Water

The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

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Australia, floods
The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind. Pixabay

Dirty water from a flood crisis in north Australia has spread to parts of the Great Barrier Reef, placing it under stress, scientists have said. The floods are the result of weeks of devastating rain in Queensland. Some regions experienced the equivalent of a year’s rainfall in 10 days.

Aerial pictures show that run-off from one river has blanketed some reef areas more than 60 kilometres from shore, the BBC reported on Friday.

The UN calls the Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, the “most biodiverse” of all the World Heritage sites, and of “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance”.

Australia, flood
The floods are the result of weeks of devastating rain in Queensland. Pixabay

Scientists fear the sediment-laden waters may be blocking out light and effectively “smothering” coral.

In recent weeks, run-off from several rivers has coalesced to affect an approximately 600 kilometre stretch of the reef’s outer edges, scientists said. The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

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Frederieke Kroon from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said the nutrient-rich water had also sparked algae growth in some areas, turning waters “a thick blanket of green”.

The reef is already facing threats to its survival such as coral bleaching caused by warmer sea temperatures. It has also been damaged by cyclones. (IANS)