United Nations, November 9: The UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has denounced the Australian government for withdrawing support to former Manus Island detainees as the stand-off over the provision of services to more than 600 men entered its fifth day on Saturday.
It comes as the detainees have called for an investigation into the death of a 29-year-old asylum seeker, who was killed in a road accident on the island nation on Thursday, reports the Guardian.
In a statement, Rupert Colville, spokesman for high commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said the UN’s human rights committee had “serious concerns about the welfare, safety and wellbeing” of the men who remained at the centre in Papua New Guinea, which was formally decommissioned on Tuesday.
Water to the centre and essential medical services were also cut off on Tuesday, while electricity was disconnected on Wednesday morning. The men have been digging for water.
Colville said the men were “too frightened to leave”, the Guardian reported.
“We call on the Australian government, as the party who interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services which have been cut off since authorities shuttered the facility on October 31.”
Australia refuses New Zealand offer on refugees
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday turned down a renewed offer from New Zealand to resettle some refugees from a Papua New Guinea (PNG) detention centre, the media reported.
About 600 men are refusing to leave a de-commissioned Australian centre on Manus Island saying they fear attacks from locals, reports the BBC.
Turnbull said he would not, at this time, take up the offer from his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern.
The two leaders held talks here earlier on Sunday.
Ardern had said she could not ignore “the human face” of what Australia was dealing with.
Australia refuses to take in any asylum seekers trying to reach its territories unofficially by boat. Those who arrive are placed in camps on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and on the Pacific island of Nauru.
New Zealand first said it would take 150 of the asylum seekers in 2013, but the offer has been repeatedly rejected by Australia, the BBC reported.
Australia withdrew from the Manus Island centre on Tuesday, following a PNG court ruling that the centre was unconstitutional.
The men – most of whom have refugee status – have now lost access to running water, electricity and working toilets, and their food supplies are dwindling.
They have begun digging into the ground to find water and set up catchments to collect rain water.
The Commission repeated its criticism that Australia’s offshore refugee processing regime was “unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations” and said asylum seekers and refugees should be immediately transferred to Australia for processing.
Rallies in support of the Manus refugees were held in Canberra and Brisbane on Friday and planned for Melbourne and Sydney on Saturday.
On Friday, opposition leader Bill Shorten urged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to accept a renewed offer from New Zealand to take 150 refugees from Australia’s offshore processing camps.