Manus Island: PNG authorities say they have cleared detention centre, all men bused out

Manus Island: PNG authorities say they have cleared detention centre, all men bused out

Manus Island: PNG authorities say they have cleared detention centre, all men bused out

Updated 24 November 2017, 14:50 AEDT

The 328 men who had been refusing to leave the closed Manus Island detention centre have now been moved to new camps, Papua New Guinea authorities confirm.

Papua New Guinea authorities say they have moved all of the remaining 328 men at the decommissioned Manus Island detention centre to new camps, after police and immigration officials re-entered the site this morning.

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also confirmed the centre was now cleared.

Key points:

  • PNG authorities say that 50 men were moved peacefully while 328 remain inside
  • Refugees report being attacked and detained and forcibly removed
  • Julie Bishop says the situation on Manus does not undermine Australia's reputation

About 50 men were removed from the centre yesterday in a similar operation, sparking a day of tensions between the men in the centre and PNG authorities.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton welcomed the news that all men had now left the centre.

The ABC saw at least 12 buses turning into the East Lorengau transit centre — however it was unclear how many of the 328 men were onboard and whether they all had passengers or just belongings.

"Four buses are full and on way to the new camps," refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani tweeted earlier, adding that other vehicles were carrying belongings.

"The refugees are saying that they are leaving the prison camp because police are using violence and very angry."

Police Commissioner Gari Baki said in a statement last night that yesterday's relocations were done "peacefully and without the use of force" — in contrast to reports of asylum-seekers in the centre — while urging the remaining men to move.

He added that the current situation should be a "walk in the park" compared to their past lives in their home countries.

"Manus is a peaceful island and I am sure it is a walk in the park compared to what they left behind in their respective countries."

"We are doing the best we can and the refugees cannot continue to be stubborn and defiant.

"The fact is that we are not moving them into the jungle … they are being relocated to two centres where there is water, electricity, food and medical services."

However, Tim Costello, the chief advocate for World Vision Australia, said some of the new sites were not up to standard.

Mr Costello and members of his organisation have been on the island and had the opportunity to look at the facilities being offered to the men there.

"I got into West Haus and I can tell you this is a construction site, this is not finished," he told RN Breakfast.

"There is earth-moving equipment, there are open drains."

Mr Dutton said alternative accommodation had been available to house all inhabitants of the former detention centre since October 31.

"Food services, cleaning, security and the ELRTC-medical clinic are all operational and have been available since October 31," he said in a statement.

Manus situation not undermining Australia: Bishop

But refugees, such as Mr Boochani, disagree, saying the new accommodation is a "real prison".

Mr Baki addressed directly Mr Boochani in his statement as "stirring up trouble" while sidestepping his reports that he was handcuffed.

"I've just been released. They handcuffed me for more than two hours in a place behind the prison camp," Mr Boochani wrote last night.

"The police commander yelled at me 'you are reporting against us'. They pushed me several times and broke my belongings."

This morning, Mr Boochani added that police had "attacked" the camp again and were forcing the remaining men to new camps.

"Police attacked the prison camp and the refugees are saying that they beat them," he wrote.

"The refugees are going to leave the prison camp. So many are in the buses and are on the way to the new camps."

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the situation on Manus Island is not undermining Australia's international reputation.

"I do not believe so at all," Ms Bishop said.

"In fact nations respect our stand on people smuggling and we are working very closely with countries including Indonesia to ensure that the people smuggling trade is not revived."

The United Nations called for calm yesterday after receiving reports of force being used to move asylum-seekers from the centre.

Dutton accuses activists of exaggerating

Labor's immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said he was deeply concerned at reports that force was used to remove asylum seekers and refugees against their will from the Manus Island centre.

But Mr Dutton accused activists of making inaccurate and exaggerated claims of violence and injuries on Manus, but said they had failed to produce any evidence to prove these allegations.

"What is clear is that there has been an organised attempt to provoke trouble and disrupt the new facilities," he said in a statement.

He said the Government had been advised that some equipment had been sabotaged and water infrastructure had been vandalised.

"The equipment is being repaired or replaced and the Government understands these matters are under investigation," Mr Dutton said.

He said advocates should encourage asylum seekers to either try for resettlement in the United States or in PNG and for non-refugees to accept assistance packages to return to their home country.

But Mr Neumann called on the Government to do more to find other options for the men.

He said the Prime Minister should "immediately accept New Zealand's offer to resettle refugees from Manus Island and Nauru and negotiate conditions similar to the United States refugee resettlement agreement to ensure people smugglers do not exploit vulnerable people".