....Speaking through the safe mediums of Twitter and Ray Hadley’s radio show, Dutton furiously declared it was everyone else who was wrong. Dutton said he knew the truth of the lies spread by detainees, advocates, the United Nations, Amnesty International, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Australian Council for International Development, the Australian Medical Association, the Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, the New Zealand government, PNG’s supreme court, PNG’s grand chief, Sir Michael Somare, multiple member nations of the UN, Australian voters, even the front page of News Corp’s Daily Telegraph......
A fact-finding mission representing Australian humanitarian agencies has warned of an impending mental health crisis on Manus Island in its report released today.
In a report entitled Refugees on Manus: An Impending Mental Health Crisis the multi-agency mission outlined its findings from their mission to Papua New Guinea 21-27 November 2017, conducted under the auspices of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).
The delegation is warning of urgent physical and mental health issues among the refugees and asylum seekers and is calling on the Australian Government to immediately ensure the safety and wellbeing of the men for whom it is responsible.
The leader of the delegation, Tim Costello, said the ongoing detention of more than 600 men on Manus was robbing them not only of their hope, but also their health.
“The indefinite nature of this situation, with no clear pathway for resettlement, has the most insidious and deep impact on these men,” Mr Costello said. “We are robbing them of their freedom, denying them all hope and condemning them to terrible suffering.”
ACFID CEO, Marc Purcell, said the delegation had written to both the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull and the Leader of Opposition, Bill Shorten outlining the dire situation on Manus and the urgent need for action.
“We are calling on the government to take immediate and concrete steps to bring an end to the crisis on Manus and end the suffering. These men require appropriate medical treatment and psychosocial care and their resettlement should be fast tracked.”
Oxfam’s Humanitarian Manager, Meg Quatermaine said the mental health crisis on Manus cannot be left unaddressed.
“These men are distressed and they don’t know what the future holds. We urge the Australian Government to immediately arrange for these men to be evacuated to Australia so that they have access to appropriate medical care.”
The ACFID mission were on the ground when the refugees were forcibly removed from the former detention centre on November 23-24 and saw them being bussed to the new transitional centres – at least one of which is not complete. They had a chance to speak with the men, including those seeking medical assistance.
ACFID has released a report on the preliminary findings of the mission which can be downloaded here
The letter from the delegation to Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten can be downloaded here
As bad as the situation presently is at the Manus Island detention centre, one thing is reasonably certain. If asylum seekers remain there, the situation from this point onwards is likely to get even worse.
That is because power has been cut, there is no electricity to run the centre's air-conditioning. Our footage shows asylum seekers sleeping on tables outside to escape the heat, which can reach 40C.
Bathrooms without running water quickly become filthy, even in urban circumstances. At the Manus Island detention centre, toilets and urinals are filthy and clogged. Green slime covers the floor of the shower recess and there is mould on the walls. Yet just 20 minutes away there is a facility with running water, power supplies and food.
According to activists speaking on behalf of the asylum seekers, the 580 men who refuse to leave their living quarters believe their lives would be at risk if they move to the new facility, which photographs earlier this week show is still under construction. The facility has incomplete sewerage works, unsecured demountable buildings and a lack of security fencing.
Locals who are hostile to asylum seekers are said to be the reason for the reluctance of the 580 men to move. "You have to ask why would anyone ever endure anything like this. Because they think they may face a slow death (in the centre) but outside they believe they will be rapidly in danger." GetUp's human rights campaign co-director Shen Narayanasamy said.
The security problem should be viewed as a separate and distinct issue to the conditions at the detention centre. The former is something that can be addressed by Papua New Guinea's police and immigration authorities. The latter is an unavoidable consequence of living in circumstances where water, electricity, food and medicine are no longer available.
Those refusing to move were warned yesterday by the PNG immigration department that if they do not shift to their new facility voluntarily, they face compulsory relocation.
Remaining at the existing centre is clearly not an option.