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Manus detainees facing 'impossible choice "

Posted On: Thursday, 18 May 2017

PORT MORESBY, 18 MAY 2017 (AAP) --- Detainees on Manus Island may face an impossible decision about where to go as the immigration centre is torn down around them. Greens spokesman Nick McKim holds grave fears for hundreds of men who say they've been told by a Papua New Guinea official demolition will start within weeks before the centre's October closure.

"They could ... go back to the countries they have fled from and face persecution, personal danger, arbitrary imprisonment or worse," Senator McKim told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday.

"They were told they could go to a third country such as Cambodia - which we know doesn't have the supports necessary to support refugees - or they were told they could take their chances in Papua New Guinea."

The PNG official on Monday told refugees an area of the Manus camp would close next Sunday, with the rest of the compound to be shut on June 30. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says refugees who aren't taken under the US resettlement deal may settle in PNG, while roughly 400 non-refugees will be sent back to their home country.

"I hope they now realise that the government is deadly serious about the fact people will not be coming to this country under any circumstance," he told Sky News on Tuesday.

An unspecified number of asylum-seekers will be relocated to a transit centre, according to a Reuters news report. Detainees awaiting acceptance for resettlement by the United States have been told some of them will be held at PNG's East Lorengau camp, near the island's major town. It is still unclear when the resettlements will begin but Mr Dutton says the US are putting no roadblocks in the way. He wants Manus Island closed by the end of October at the latest, after PNG's Supreme Court ruled it illegal last year.

"The centre won't close drop dead on the 31st of October, they will start to decommission parts of the centre in the run up," the minister told 3AW radio. The imminent closure has intensified calls from human rights groups to bring the more than 800 refugees and asylum seekers to Australia....PACNEWS


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