Date: 
Wednesday 8 November 2017

The Australian Human Rights Commission is concerned about the current situation for refugees and asylum seekers at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre. The situation has been described by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a ‘humanitarian emergency’.

UNHCR staff who are monitoring the situation on Manus Island have reported that essential services (including water, electricity, food, medical support and security services) are no longer available at the Regional Processing Centre following its official closure last week. The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea on November 7 rejected an application to restore services to the facility.

UNHCR has also reported that alternative accommodation arrangements remain inadequate to meet the needs of the 600 men currently residing at the facility, many of whom are concerned about their safety due to rising tensions within the local community.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Australia and Papua New Guinea to ‘enter into a dialogue with the men to ensure [their] rights are duly respected, protected and fulfilled’.

'Australia and Papua New Guinea should work together to protect the human rights of people subject to third country processing on Manus Island,' said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

'The governments of both countries must act urgently to prevent the situation from deteriorating further and ensure that all refugees and asylum seekers enjoy safe and humane living conditions.'

The situation also highlights the need for Australia to redouble its efforts to find durable solutions for the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island.

Photo credit: © UNHCR/Shawn Baldwin