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Close Manus Island - Marlene - When will asylum seekers be moved from Manus Island

Closure of Manus Island Detention Centre.
In April of this year the PNG Supreme Court ruled that the Manus Island detention centre for refugees was unconstitutional and had to close.
The ruling has been hailed as a major victory for refugees and asylum seekers. The day after the closure the Manus Detention Centre was made an open centre but the PNG Government announced that it would still be closed.
Since then there has been a noticeable silence on the issue. We have had no details of the timescale for the closure or of what arrangements are being made for over 900 refugees currently detained there.
Conditions on the island have been described as a “hellish prison camp” while others have called it Australia’s Guantanamo in the heart of the Pacific Ocean”.
Yet we know little about the conditions and everyday life on Manus Island — and that’s pretty much the way the government wants to keep it.

A refugee walks between tents on Manus Island.

High security surrounds Manus and workers under contract on the islands are forbidden to describe the living conditions, sanitation, medical services or other essential aspects of everyday life on the island . The government has kept Manus Island under a cloud of secrecy so that human rights abuses are far from scrutiny. Human rights groups and lawyers have had difficulty getting access to the island and some of their reports have been heavily censored. There have been widespread claims of rape and sexual abuse taking place on Manus and suicide incidents seem to be a regular occurrence.
The cost of running the Manus Island detention centre has refugee advocacy groups truly outraged. It has cost an estimated $1 billion over four years alone.
Further estimates obtained by the Refugee Action Coalition claim the cost of offshore processing is around $400,000 per person per year.
The $2 billion contract awarded last year to Transfield Services, now called Broadspectrum, to provide services at the government’s Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, is only part of the total cost. Many believe that this money would be far better spent on processing and accommodating the refugees here in Australia.
PNG said it is refusing to accept responsibility for those awaiting processing and the Supreme Court in PNG is expected to formally order the detainees back to Australia.
Meanwhile, Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton are insistent that none of the asylum seekers being held at the Manus Island detention centre, will ever make their way to Australia.
It is timely therefore for us to ask some questions. What is being planned for these refugees? Where will they be accommodated? Will they be sent to Christmas Island? What is the timescale for the relocation? Does the new Turnbull Government have a plan and if so can we hear about it?
Marlene Griffin July 2016

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