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    A relative of asylum seekers, currently being held on the tiny south Pacific island of Nauru, known only as 'Fida', cries during a media conference to officially launch rights group Amnesty International's report titled 'Island of Despair - Australia's Processing of Refugees on Nauru' in Sydney, Australia, October 18, 2016.

    Refugee Blues: Australia 'Has Created a Humanitarian Disaster on Manus Island'

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    Asia & Pacific
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    The Australian government’s decision to close a refugee detention center on Manus Island and move the inmates elsewhere in a bid to dissuade refugees from entering the country has created a humanitarian disaster on the island, Ian Rintoul, an Australian political activist, told Radio Sputnik.

    Sputnik: Looking at the situation on Manus Island, what is the overall atmosphere among refugees?

    Ian Rintoul: It’s a very difficult and very tense situation. People have got no power, no water –, there are no toilets. They fear they will be forced out of the detention center to other areas of Manus Island, which are even less safe and have less facilities and less medical care. In 2015 [a refugee] was killed when locals attacked the detention center. There have been numerous such instances in the past two or three months. People are robbed, people are bashed; there’ve been knifing incidents too. Still, [the authorities] are moving refugees to unguarded, insecure areas where there is no provision for food, for medical assistance.

    Sputnik: Why is nothing being done to protect these people?

    Ian Rintoul: It’s the product of a very brutal policy pursued by the Australian government, which has been condemned by Amnesty International and by UN bodies and has inspired quite a big pro-refugee movement in Australia. The Conservative government has maintained a very brutal anti-refugee policy in an attempt to gain some domestic political advantage by its ruthlessly anti-refugee policy.

    Sputnik: Do you think the Australian government will finally realize that something should be done to prevent this situation from becoming violent?

    Ian Rintoul: There are demonstrations taking place in Australia in support of refugees;, there are locals on Manus Island who are opposed to what the government is doing;, they are petitioning the government to bring the asylum seekers back to Australia. This is an outrageous situation that a country like Australia, which recently took up a seat on the UN Human Rights Council has made a mockery of its commitments to human rights [with its brutal handling] of people who are completely defenseless.


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    protests, forced relocation, detention camp, refugees, Amnesty International, UN, Australia
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