TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -A first night for hundreds of refugees abandoned by Australia at a former detention center on Papua New Guinea (PNG) has passed without incident, although not without stress.
Individuals from inside the site said a nervous first night had passed without their worst fears coming true.
A PNG court had earlier ruled that the detention of the asylum seekers at the camp was illegal and that it had to be closed. A closure was scheduled for and partially implemented on Tuesday, when security guards left. As a result, at least 600 men were left to themselves and refused to leave, fearing violence by locals.
Australia has taken no action to resettle the asylum seekers and has effectively abandoned them there.
Power supplies to the site have been cut, but tap water supplies were still available as of Wednesday morning local time. The water is not drinkable, though.
Meanwhile, authorities have said PNG military forces would return to the camp, which used to be a military base, and called on the men staying inside to leave immediately and take shelter in three new housing centers located in the town of Lorengau, where Papua New Guinea authorities have deployed extra police forces. Officials said anyone remaining would be considered to be trespassing on a military base.
But Lorengau locals have threatened to blockade the alternative new camps. Earlier this week, some of the locals held a rally and demanded that Australia take back the men.
Ian Rintoul, a spokesman for the Sydney-based Refugee Action Coalition, said locals around the current camp had brought food and drinking water for the asylum seekers.
Rintoul said some of the locals sold the food while some others simply gave it away.
“The men are sitting tight for the moment,” Rintoul told The Associated Press. “The situation isn’t great, but at least there were no attacks during the night.”
The Coalition has applied to a court for an injunction stopping the closure of the center.
“They took generators this morning,” a man leaving there tweeted on Wednesday. “There is not power in whole center. The toilets do not work. All refugees woke up again in fear.”
For four years, Australia has paid the tiny Pacific island nation, its nearest neighbor, to house the asylum seekers. Australia has been detaining the asylum seekers who attempt to reach the country by boat and sending them to the PNG. It refuses to resettle them inside Australia.
Under the controversial refugee policy known as “Sovereign Borders,” Australia also sends such asylum seekers to another camp, in Nauru in the South Pacific, which still operates.
Source: Press Tv