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Dutton lashes advocates as Manus detainees dig for water


Immigration Minister Peter Dutton is blaming advocates and the Greens for the ongoing Manus Island stand-off as detainees at the mothballed centre dig holes in search of water.

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Some 600 asylum seekers and refugees have barricaded themselves inside the complex, which officially closed on Tuesday, fearful they will be attacked if they venture outside.

Staff have abandoned the camp, power and running water has been cut off, and the last food packs were distributed on Sunday night.

“We are expecting that someone attack us … nobody is here to protect us,” Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani told AAP.

“Starvation is pressuring and making the situation so worse … we have no access to anything to survive.”

Human rights lawyers have lodged an injunction in the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court which would effectively force the centre to re-open.

The case is expected to be heard on Thursday.

The Lombrum centre was forced to close after the court ruled last year that Australia’s detention of refugees and asylum seekers there was illegal and unconstitutional.

The detainees are being urged to move to three alternative locations, which Dutton insists are much better facilities than the decommissioned centre, despite claims at least one of the sites is still under construction.

“The advocates who are here telling them not to move, they are not doing those people any favours,” he told the Nine Network today.

“I want to close Manus Island as quickly as possible. It doesn’t help when you have got the Greens telling people not to engage and move. It makes a difficult situation even worse.”

The men spent the night in complete darkness on Wednesday as power was cut and drank what rainwater they had collected earlier in the day.

There’s also a threat of dysentery because the sewage system has been cut off and the toilets are full.

Boochani said the pressure was so high one of his countrymen had self-harmed.

The man’s condition is stable, he said, after refugees rendered first aid because medical personnel are no longer at the centre.

There are fears of more self-harm incidents as the stand-off develops, especially as medications such as anti-depressants may soon run low.

Although there’s an increased PNG military build up outside the centre, immigration officials have said they won’t be removing the men by force.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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