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Refugees on Manus Island Come to the End of the Road

November 8, 2017
Plain English Version

Refugees on Manus Island. Reuters

Refugees flee hardship and violence. Poverty in Africa is one reason. Violence in the  Middle East is another reason. Crime in Central America is yet another reason.

Europe is the goal of most refugees.

In Myanmar, Rohingya refugees are escaping death and their burning villages. They are seeking safety in Bangladesh.

That brings us to Manus Island in New Guinea. The men there are refugees from Southeast Asia and the Middle East. They arrived by boat. They were trying to get to Australia. Australia has a law. The law says refugees cannot arrive by boat.

Australia made a deal with Papua New Guinea to put the men in a detention center. Most observers said the center was a ‘hellhole.’ Australia now has made another deal with New Guinea. It is to close the center. The men there would go to the nearby city of Lorengau.

The 600 men in the center rebelled. They refused to go because they fear violence in Lorengau. Now they face starvation.

The Australian government ordered that food, water and medical care for the men be stopped. The men made a case to the court in New Guinea for help. They said the order violated human rights standards. The court denied their request for aid.

Now there is no power, water or food for the 600 men. Inside the center, there was sadness and despair at the court’s decision. Several refugees said people were crying. Things are getting worse.

An advocate said, “Hundreds of people remain in a crisis situation. They are hungry, thirsty and without decent medical care. Australia set up and abandoned this center. Now it must avert this crisis by bringing the men to safety.”

On Sunday, hundreds of the men signed a letter. They were pleading for help amid the standoff. They addressed the letter to the leaders of the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

The men wrote, “We have no any other choices except for remaining in here.” They urged the world leaders “to help us.”

New Zealand wants to take some of the men. Australia said, “not at this time.”

Source: The New York Times November 7, 2017

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