TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -More than 600 asylum seekers are inside the formerly Australian-run Lombrum detention center on the PNG’s Manus Island. An earlier Supreme Court ruling had deemed the camp illegal, and Australian officials abandoned it on October 31, invoking the verdict.
Basic services, including those of food, water, and medical treatment, were cut after the site’s “closure.” The asylum seekers then filed an appeal through an advocacy group to have the services restored.
Left with little food or drinking water inside the camp, the asylum seekers have been refusing to move to alternative accommodations for fear of attacks by locals.
Ben Lomai, a lawyer for the asylum seekers, told media on Tuesday that the Supreme Court had rejected the fresh appeal because it said power, water, and food were already available at the alternative accommodations allocated to the asylum seekers.
“There is no real good reason why they should not voluntarily move to those new facilities,” the court said in its ruling.
Amnesty warns of catastrophe
Meanwhile, Kate Schuetze, the Pacific researcher for rights group Amnesty International, warned that the asylum seekers’ lives were at risk and conditions inside the camp were deteriorating “catastrophically.”
“The lives of these men, who are only asking for their rights to dignity and safety, are at serious risk,” Schuetze said in a statement.
Ninety of the men in the camp were reported sick and required “urgent” medical treatment after drinking unclean water.
“They have infection, stomachache, and diarrhea because of dirty water,” one of the asylum-seekers told Reuters.
Australia has been detaining the asylum seekers who attempt to reach the country by boat and had been sending some of them to the PNG. Under a controversial refugee policy known as “Sovereign Borders,” Australia also sends other such asylum seekers to another camp, in Nauru in the South Pacific, which is still operating.