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UN condemns Australia’s treatment of refugees

The UN aid agencies have called on the Australian Government to stop its “policy of deterrence by rescuing people at sea, mistreating them and abandoning them”.

“We are concerned by events in the past week at Australia’s offshore Regional Processing Centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where refugees and asylum seekers are holding out after the Australian Government’s decision to close the facility and pull out its support staff,” Xinhua news agency quoted Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Rupert Colville as saying.

“We share the concerns of other UN agencies, including UNHCR, about what is an unfolding humanitarian emergency.”

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Babar Baloch said Australia’s policy of deterrence by “rescuing people at sea, mistreating them and abandoning them has become a notion of cruelty”.

Both UNHCR and OHCHR said they are seriously concerned about the well-being of the 600 men who remain at the centre due to lack of basic amenities as well as rising tensions with the surrounding local population.

“We call on the Australian government, as the party who interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services which have been cut off since authorities shuttered the facility on October 31,” Colville said.