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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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Australia’s Maribyrnong Detention Center Gets Closed

The ruling Liberal-led coalition has faced fierce public opposition to its harsh immigration policies, including the use of unpopular offshore detention camps.

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The Melbourne, Australia, skyline is seen June 2, 2010. VOA

Australia announced the closure of Melbourne’s controversial Maribyrnong detention center Wednesday, one of several facilities used to lock up immigrants who arrived without papers.

The government said the decision to close the much-criticized facility was “another milestone in the ramping-down of Australia’s onshore immigration detention network.”

Maribyrnong opened in the middle of the last century, but has recently been the site of hunger strikes and other protests over harsh treatment.

In 2017, the Australian Human Rights Commission — a government body — reported guards at the facility used “more restrictive measures than necessary,” including the excessive use of restraints during escort.

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FILE – Protestors against asylum seekers being deported, gather for a rally in Sydney, Australia, Feb. 4, 2016. VOA

The few remaining inmates have now been transferred to other facilities.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said successful policies had reduced the number of people held at Australia’s immigration detention centers from a peak of 10,000 in 2013 to just over a thousand today.

Also Read: An ‘Underwater Garden’ Gets Revealed In Australia

Around 19 facilities have been shuttered since September 2013 — as the government looks to elections that will take place by the end of May and intense debate over immigration policies.

The ruling Liberal-led coalition has faced fierce public opposition to its harsh immigration policies, including the use of unpopular offshore detention camps. (VOA)