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Pacific News Minute: Manus Island Refugees Must Relocate or Risk Resettlement in the U.S.

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

The governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea are finally acting to close the notorious detention facility on Manus Island. But none of the asylum seekers has been resettled so far, and hundreds are refusing to relocate to a transit facility. We have more on the story from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.


Australia and Papua New Guinea announced plans to close the camp by the end of October. But plans to relocate the 700 men still there have not gone well. According to a report in The Guardian Australia, the gym’s been closed, English classes and other activities have been discontinued, buildings are being shut down one by one, and electricity is being reduced. But 700 men refuse to accept relocation to a transit center on the outskirts of the town of Lorengau.


One reason is fear. Last month, a Bangladeshi man was attacked with a machete and robbed in Lorengau, the latest in a series of such attacks. And Radio New Zealand quoted Kurdish journalist and detainee Behrooz Boochani as saying that men worry that the relocation is part of plan to force the men to accept permanent resettlement in Papua New Guinea.


The United States has agreed to accept as many as 1,250 refugees from Manus and from Australia’s other offshore detention camp on Nauru. But no one knows how many will get through the Trump Administration’s extreme vetting, and signs have been posted inside the camp warning that failure to cooperate with authorities could be held against them by the U.S.


One refugee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Guardian Australia, “We don’t believe them when they talk about the American deal. They just say that to make people cooperate,” he said, “they have lied to us over and over again, and this is just another lie.”

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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