Manus Island: Buses of refugees leave former Australian camp
Buses carrying asylum seekers have left a former Australian-run detention camp in Papua New Guinea (PNG) after police entered the centre for a second day, refugees and advocates have confirmed.
Hundreds of detainees refused to leave the Manus Island centre when it shut on 31 October, citing safety fears.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported that all had been moved to alternative accommodation on Friday.
Some men were beaten with batons by PNG police, detainees claimed.
Videos posted on social media showed PNG authorities swinging poles towards asylum seekers.
“They [the asylum seekers] are leaving, all the people. They don’t like to move but then they beat us,” one refugee told the BBC on Friday.
Earlier, police commissioner Gari Baki had said that removals on Thursday had been conducted “peacefully and without the use of force”. Australia has said it is not involved in the operation.
Under a controversial policy, Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.
Australia shut down the Manus Island centre after a PNG court ruled it was unconstitutional.
The UN said on Thursday it was troubled by reports the men were being forcefully moved but could not independently verify the allegations because its staff had been denied access to the centre.
The men inside had refused to leave the camp over fears they would be attacked. The asylum seekers’ presence is a cause of tension on the island.
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The former detainees have been transferred to alternative accommodation on the island.
ABC reporter Liam Fox said he had seen at least 12 buses head to the alternative facilities, and that 328 men had been moved on Friday.
Earlier this week, the UN’s refugee agency said that the alternative housing remained “under construction”, was inadequately secured, and lacked “the most basic services” such as medical care.
Canberra has steadfastly ruled out allowing the men into Australia, arguing it would prompt further human trafficking and lead to deaths at sea.