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Immigrants in Australian Detention Center Strike Demanding Refugee Status

© REUTERS / Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via ReutersAsylum seekers are pictured in this handout photo provided by the refugee action coalition, taken inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea January 13, 2015
Asylum seekers are pictured in this handout photo provided by the refugee action coalition, taken inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea January 13, 2015 - Sputnik International
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More than 500 immigrants went on a hunger strike in the Australian Manus Island detention center, demanding the government to provide them with a refugee status in Australia or hand their cases over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

MOSCOW, January 14 (Sputnik) — Over 500 undocumented immigrants in the Australian Manus Island detention center went on a hunger strike calling on the authorities to consider their claims for refugee status in Australia, the Guardian reported Wednesday.

The Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, used for detaining undocumented immigrants, is located in Papua New Guinea (PNG), but is operated by a private company on behalf of the Australian government.

The number of vulnerable children in South Australia (SA) being placed in last resort emergency housing is on the rise, Pam Simmons, Guardian of Children and Young People, said Monday. - Sputnik International
Number of South Australian Children in Emergency Accommodation Surges
The immigrants are asking the Australian government to provide them with refugee status in Australia or hand their cases over to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). They are afraid of being forcibly resettled in the local community in PNG as the local population is hostile toward immigrants, the Guardian reports.

Poor living conditions is one more reason for the strike. Water pumps in the center are out of order which means the detainees have no access to shower facilities and no way of washing their clothes or flushing toilets. Restoring the water supply could take several weeks, according to the Guardian.

A previous strike in Manus Island detention center dissolved into riots in February 2014. The riot resulted in the death of one man, who was allegedly attacked by a local warden, a further 70 people received injuries.

Over 20,000 asylum seekers arrived to Australia by boat in 2013, according to the Refugee Council of Australia. Most of the asylum seekers originating from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka traveled to Australia via Indonesia.

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