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PNG urges Manus detainees to move

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Papua New Guinea Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas says it’s no longer possible to restore services to the Manus Island detention centre, urging its inhabitants to leave.

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Petrus said it wasn’t simply a case of reconnecting the water or electricity at the mothballed facility, which was officially closed on Tuesday last week.

“There is no service provider to deliver services and more significantly, as services are available at the new facilities, there is no need for services to be reconnected,” he said in a statement.

Roughly 600 refugees and asylum seekers barricaded inside the centre have run out of food, water and medication but are adamant it’s safer to remain than risk being attacked by locals at the new accommodations.

Thomas said the security concerns of detainees had been taken into account, with increased measures put in place at the other facilities.

“Refugees and non-refugees should no longer have any security concerns,” he said.

Voluntary relocation of the detainees “remains the government’s preference.”

“However, the government will not shirk its responsibilities and we are prepared to work with relevant authorities to ensure the needs of refugees and non-refugees are provided and they have access to necessary services.”

Thomas also said the PNG government could not continue to bear the cost of watching over residents at the mothballed centre.

Refugees had hoped Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would accept a longstanding New Zealand offer to resettle 150 refugees.

However, during a bilateral meeting in Sydney with his counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, Turnbull said his government was focused on a United States resettlement deal to take up to 1250 people.

So far, 54 refugees have been resettled in the US.

Turnbull will meet Donald Trump on the sidelines of the East Asia summit in the Philippines later this month and is facing calls to lobby for the US president to speed up the resettlement process.

Meanwhile, there are grave fears for the health of an Iranian refugee who experienced heart pain over the weekend.

It took PNG authorities more than four hours to get him to a hospital on Saturday and then he was sent back to the centre because it lacked adequate equipment.

Six detainees have died on Manus Island – including one who was murdered – since it was reopened in 2012.

– AAP

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