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Asylum seekers barricaded in Papua New Guinea camp call for aid

Thursday, November 02, 2017 - 01:34

Asylum seekers refusing to leave a detention centre in Papua New Guinea begin digging wells to try find water as their food supplies dwindle, in a stand-off that human rights groups warn could become a humanitarian crisis. Samantha Vadas reports.

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Papua New Guinea's Manus Island edging towards a humanitarian crisis. That's the warning from rights groups as asylum seekers began digging wells on Thursday (November 2) in a desperate search for water. Power and food supplies are dwindling as authorities try to shut down the controversial Pacific camp, one of two used by Australia to hold asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Around 600 detainees are refusing to leave and move to other facilities out of fear of retaliation from locals who don't want them on the island. Those who've decided to stay say the situation's become seriously dangerous after detention centre staff apparently left earlier this week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED ASYLUM SEEKER SAYING: "So the gate was open and none of them was here to provide safety for us. So two hours later the locals, like around 100, 150 men they came around the detention centre. They start looting around, taking everything which is left over - boxes, air-condition, fans, fridge, everything that we have. So we are really scared to say anything to them because they have got machetes and knives in their hands." Detainees on the island have consistently raised concerns about treatment by locals and authorities. Closing the camp is part of an Australian government plan to push asylum seekers to return to their home country, settle in Papua New Guinea or move elsewhere.

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Asylum seekers barricaded in Papua New Guinea camp call for aid

Thursday, November 02, 2017 - 01:34