Manus Island: PNG authorities will not use force to remove men from closed detention centre today

Manus Island: PNG authorities will not use force to remove men from closed detention centre today

Manus Island: PNG authorities will not use force to remove men from closed detention centre today

Updated 11 November 2017, 15:55 AEDT

After earlier concerns about tensions boiling over on Manus Island, PNG police say force will not be used today to remove the remaining 400 or so men from the closed detention centre.

Manus Island's police commander says force will not be used today to remove the men from the closed Manus Island detention centre, adding that "things are going smoothly".

Key points:

  • Hundreds of men have vowed to stay put inside the closed centre
  • Authorities have destroyed rubbish bins used by the men to store water
  • The UN Refugee Agency is urging authorities to show "calm and restraint" and calls for a "rapid de-escalation"

About 90 asylum seekers left the detention centre yesterday, David Yapu said, but about 400 men remaining inside have vowed to stay put.

Two Pakistani asylum seekers told the ABC they now have until Monday to leave and did not expect any use of force until then.

Immigration are yet to confirm how long the deadline had been extended for but the standoff looks set to continue.

Overnight, Papua New Guinea authorities started to dismantle makeshift shelters at the Manus Island detention centre while the men reportedly began digging more wells inside the centre to provide another source of drinking water.

Local police authorities said around 200 men had left the detention centre over the last two days as authorities issued notices instructing holdouts to leave immediately because of "unhygienic conditions".

Despite the warning, several of the asylum seekers said on social media that they still would not leave the site as police began destroying rubbish bins the men were using to store water.

"They are destroying our shelters," Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist from Iran who has been detained for more than four years, said.

"They destroyed the rubbish bins where we have been collecting water too."

UN calls for 'calm and restraint'

Nai Jit Lam, from the UN's refugee agency UNHCR said the withdrawal of critical services had created a high risk environment for all parties involved.

"There are no interpreters in Manus right now, so a simple fact of communication — whether it be with local people or police … there are concerns there's a high risk of miscommunication," he said.

"From our observation so far, the services that have been withdrawn from the regional processing centre has not been adequately replaced outside of the centre itself — that's a serious concern for us.

"There is an increased risk because of the way this has been organised."

In an earlier statement, UNHCR urged PNG authorities to show "calm and restraint" ahead of today's deadline.

It said the forced movement of asylum seekers was inappropriate and the situation at the detention centre required a "rapid de-escalation".

Volker Turk, assistant high commissioner for protection at UNHCR, called on both governments to exercise restraint and not to use violence, taking into account people who had been in the processing centre for years.

"These people are in a very vulnerable state with not much hope in sight," he said.

"We have been visiting Manus Island several times over the last couple of years, we have reported on the very dire conditions in these centres. It's now really high time to bring an end to this unconscionable human suffering."

Footage released this week by the activist group GetUp showed the squalid conditions inside the camp, where hundreds of men have been living without power, water or food supplies.

Meanwhile in Sydney, about 200 protesters picketed a Liberal Party fundraiser, heckling arriving guests and demanding that the men be allowed to settle in Australia.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott's sister, Sydney councillor Christine Forster, had her jacket ripped as she tried to enter a fundraiser surrounded by hundreds of protesters.

Cr Forster had to be helped through the crowds by police, who formed a human chain to shield guests from the several hundred protesters.

She said people had tried to "punch" her, and described the situation as "shocking" and "scary".

"It was a very unpleasant, unnecessary, dangerous situation that those people put everybody in," she said.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Mr Abbott attended the event.

In Melbourne, more than 1,000 people held similar protests.

Reuters/ABC