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    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

    UN Refugee Agency ‘Concerned’ About Refugee Situation on Manus Island

    © REUTERS / Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via Reuters
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    The protest at the Australian immigration detention facility has been going on after the government's decision to forcibly resettle some asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea from January 22. The Manus Island detention camp holds over 1,000 people.

    MOSCOW, January 20 (Sputnik) — The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is concerned about the refugee situation unfolding at Australia's Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea, an agency spokesperson told Sputnik.

    "We are following the issue closely and are certainly concerned," UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said Monday, commenting on numerous media reports that as many as 700 protesters at the refugee camp have joined the ongoing hunger strike to raise awareness of the conditions of their detention.

    Baloch said he had no further details at this stage. He did not comment on whether the UNHCR was involved in the situation in any way.

    The protest at the Australian offshore immigration detention facility, which holds over 1,000 people, erupted after the government made public its plans to forcibly resettle some asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea from January 22.

    An asylum seeker is pictured with his lips sewn together in this handout picture provided by the refugee action coalition, taken inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea January 13, 2015.
    © REUTERS / Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via Reuters
    Many refugees fear that once out of the camp, they will be targeted by locals. In February 2014, Papua New Guinea police and local residents stormed the detention center, killing one refugee and wounding at least 70.

    Asylum seekers, primarily from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, travel to Australia from Indonesia by sea and are currently housed in offshore detention camps. Many Manus refugees have been living there for almost two years in conditions deemed equal to torture by Amnesty International. There have been reports that some detainees have not had access to running water for several days.

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    Tags:
    migrants, immigration, protest, hunger-strike, refugees, Amnesty International, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Babar Baloch, Manus, Afghanistan, Australia, Iran, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia
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