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‘One way out’ for Manus refugees

“One way out” and “no return” is now the official policy for Manus refuges that leave to seek conveniences in shops, markets and services outside the processing centre.

Once they leave the gate, they will not be allowed back in.

The Lombrum naval base there has now adopted that policy in light of their refusal to move to the transition facility at Lorengau and in anticipation of other actions taken to compel them to move following its official closure on Tuesday.

More than 500 refugees have made it clear to the PNG Immigration that they would rather die than move out to a new detention site in East Lorengau.

Power, water, food and other emenities like health care have shut down when the Australian contractors abandoned the centre on Monday

Acting Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha who visited the centre gave directions that it will be ‘one way out’ starting Thursday.

Those remaining refugees who want to go out looking for food, water or other necessities must pack their bags also to move to a new site as they will not be allowed return entry.

Kantha has organised buses to be on standby in the morning, lunch and in the afternoon to transport those willing to move out voluntarily.

“The centre has been decommissioned. It is closed. All other services are provided elsewhere in East Lorengau and other accommodation facilities for non refugees.

“They have to jump on the bus and relocate. We will not force them,” Kantha said

He said other new sites have water, food, power and access to medical care.

“Everything is shut down and they are prone to a lot of uncertainties in terms of security. If anything happens to them at Lombrum, we are not in a position and are not obligated to assist them, but on humanitarian basis we will assist.

“But there is no arrangement in place to support them at Lombrum and that is why they have to move,” Kantha said.

Kantha said he met with Manus Governor Charlie Benjamin and locals have raised certain concerns about the refugees and non-refugees entering the new site.

“The biggest concern is in terms of security and this is the same concern raised by refugees and non refugees at Lombrum as well.

“We will speak to the contractor at the site to ensure adequate security and fencing is provided,” Kantha said

He said one measure imposed such as curfew hours is for limited movement for the benefit of both residents and local people.

“Manus is a peaceful place but we have to have these measures in place.”

He said the Defence Force will now protect the assets in place at the Lombrum detention centre.

“When these assets are gifted to the Defence Force, so it is important to both Defence and Immigration to provide security to those assets”.


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