Asylum-seekers get 24-hour reprieve from Papua New Guinea camp eviction

Asylum-seekers get 24-hour reprieve from Papua New Guinea camp eviction
Sat Nov 11, 2017 14:48:10

Papua New Guinea will delay by at least 24 hours a plan to forcibly evict hundreds of men from an abandoned Australian detention centre, three asylum seekers said on Saturday.

REUTERS--  Hundreds of men have barricaded themselves into the Manus island centre for more than 11 days without regular food or water, defying closure bids by Australia and Papua New Guinea in what the United Nations calls a "looming humanitarian crisis".

Rejecting United Nations calls to restore utilities to the camp, Papua New Guinea this week said it would "apprehend" those responsible for the stand-off when it forcibly evicted the men on Saturday.

But several asylum seekers said Papua New Guinea officials told them detainees could remain until Sunday.

"Police are talking on a microphone outside prison," Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist from Iran, who has spent more than four years detained in the camp, told Reuters.

"They're telling the refugees to leave, saying tomorrow will be the last day you are here," he said in a text message.

It was not immediately clear what caused the postponement.

Pressure on the asylum seekers, drawn largely from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Syria, has grown in recent days as Papua New Guinea tries to get them to move to three transit centres.

The asylum seekers fear reprisals if they move to the transit centres, pending possible resettlement in the United States. The main camp was closed on Oct. 31 and water and power have been cut off.


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