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Refugees firm in camp standoff

World | Nov 14, 2017
Hundreds of people who attempted to seek asylum in Australia defied yesterday's deadline to leave a decommissioned immigration camp on Papua New Guinea, where many hold out hope of starting new lives in the United States.

The camp inside a Manus Island navy base was declared closed on October 31 based on the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court's ruling last year that Australia's policy of housing asylum seekers there was unconstitutional.

But 379 of the 606 men at the male- only camp in October remained there 13 days later without power or running water, police said.

The asylum seekers fear for their safety in the alternative shelters available in the nearby town of Lorengau because of threats from residents. Australian officials have predicted conflict between asylum seekers and police evicting them.

Manus provincial police commander Chief Inspector David Yapu said he "will need some clear directives on our next course of action" since the remainder refused to leave voluntarily.

Police had complied with an order from the capital, Port Moresby, not to use force to move the asylum seekers and take them to camps 30 minutes' drive away, Yapu said.

The United States has agreed to resettle up to 1,250 refugees that Australia keeps on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island nation of Nauru. But so far only 54 have been accepted.


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October 2018