About transferees on Manus Island


How many people are detained on Manus Island, PNG?

As of 30 June 2016, there were 854 people detained in the regional processing centre in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea. That is 11 more than were there at last reported in June 2015.

Who are they?

The 854 people are all men. 

The majority of transferees are from Iran (over 500).  Others are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Somalia, Lebanon, Burma, Sri Lanka and some are stateless.

Has their refugee status been assessed?  What was the outcome?

“As at 31 May 2016, of the 551 transferees who have had their claims for asylum assessed by the PNG Government, 541(98%) had been found to be refugees.”

Why is Manus Island or the rest of PNG not a viable place for resettlement?

There are a number of issues with imposing a large group of men of varying ages from varying ethnic backgrounds on communities in PNG. 

Besides the fact that the processing centre was found to be illegal by the PNG Supreme Court and had to be hastily ‘opened’ with little planning and infrastructure, there are the economic, political and social issues within the country that make it an unwise resting place for traumatised people seeking asylum. 

Rather than delving into each of the many reasons why Manus Island, or anywhere else in PNG is not a viable location for resettlement of people who came to Australia seeking protection, perhaps the travel advice for Australians issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade should be the guide. 

In general, the advice is:

“Papua New Guinea overall, exercise a high degree of caution.”

The latest warning states:

“Latest advice, 24 August 2016

There is a high level of crime in Port Moresby, including armed robberies, carjackings and burglaries, often in locations frequented by Westerners (see Crime). We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in PNG. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.”

Advice specifically about Lae where the first group of resettled refugees have been sent includes:

“Crime rates are high, particularly in the capital Port Moresby, Lae, Mt Hagen, and other parts of the Highland provinces. The violent attack on a trekking party in September 2013 demonstrates that serious crimes can occur in any part of the country. See Crime.

Car-jacking is an ever-present threat, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Car doors should be locked with windows up at all times and caution should be taken when travelling after dark. In the evening or at night, we recommend you travel in a convoy."

In relation to the personal safety of the men transferred to Manus Island, PNG there are other issues such as the illegality of homosexuality in PNG, the high level of crime, the danger of being outside at night, the existence of ethnic and clan clashes and violence, and health risks in the country.  The list of dangers to people, especially foreigners, in PNG is long and listed clearly on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

It is not a safe place for foreigners.  It is not a safe place for refugees.

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