"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.
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.