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Papua New Guinea Begins Dismantling Manus Island Detention Camp

SYDNEY: Papua New Guinea (PNG) began dismantling a shuttered Australian-run immigration detention centre on Thursday and warned it will use force if necessary to evict nearly 600 men if they refuse to leave within two days, according to a notice posted at the camp.

The asylum seekers have barricaded themselves inside the Manus I sland centre for the past nine days, defying attempts by Australia and PNG to close the camp in a standoff the UN describes as a “looming humanitarian crisis”.

The men fear violent reprisals from the Manus Island community if they move from the camp to three transit centres, pending possible resettlement to the US. The camp was closed on October 31 and water and power have been cut off.

“You may become very sick under these conditions of overflowing sewerage, heaps of rubbish, no clean running water, no electricity and no food,” PNG’s Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority said in a two-page notice reviewed by Reuters.

“You are therefore instructed to vacate this compound immediately…if necessary, force may be used to relocate those who refuse to move voluntarily for your own sake.”

The men inside the camp, who include asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria, said they will continue to defy attempts to shut the camp.

They said they had exhausted their food supplies and were relying on rainwater to drink. Several of the men told Reuters that nearly 100 of them had fallen sick.

The notice added that demolition of fences would begin on Thursday. Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist from Iran who has been detained on Manus Island for more than four years, said on Twitter that workers had begun that task.

“The refugees are watching them fearfully…(they) are extremely scared by immigration threat but still saying we will not leave this prison camp for another prison camp,” he said.

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