There are serious concerns for the health and security of hundreds of refugees after essential services were withdrawn at the Manus Island detention centre on 31 October. In addition to limited access to food, water, electricity and medical care, these refugees and asylum-seekers are at risk of violence from members of the local community and Papua New Guinea (PNG) security forces.
The Australian government withdrew all personnel and services from the Manus Island detention centre on 31 October. Refugees and asylum-seekers in this centre have suffered for nearly five years as part of Australia’s cruel and illegal ‘offshore processing’ policies.
The more than 600 people affected were told to move to so-called transit centres that are currently too small and lack adequate security or health facilities.
Many have said that they will resist moving as they fear for their safety. Locals have previously attacked refugees, sometimes with machetes, leaving several badly injured. The PNG and Australian authorities have failed to adequately protect refugees from such violence.
Bulk medication for one month was provided at the end of October. Since then there have been two medical incidents – one involving a person with epilepsy and the other an attempt at self-harm – and medical assistance was not provided.
All water, food and power supplies have been cut off since Tuesday, 31 October and residents have resorted to digging for ground water and catching rain in bins as their supplies run low. With severely limited access to medical care, and a rapid deterioration of sanitary conditions, there are serious concerns for their health and well-being.