© 2024 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pacific News Minute: Australia Struggles to Relocate Detainees Before Manus Camp Closes

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Australia’s detention center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea is set to close at the end of this month, but most of the refugees there refuse to leave. Now Canberra is offering an alternative - the detention center in Nauru. We have more from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.

Twenty-five of the refugees on Manus have transferred to the United States, but the deal to resettle up to 1,200 is proceeding very slowly. And Australia has to find new housing by the end of the month.

The contract with the Spanish company that provides security at the detention center expires October 31st, and facilities are being shuttered and bulldozed in anticipation. Even so, most of the approximately 900 men on Manus refuse to leave the detention center. They say at a transit camp in Lorengau, a town about 20 miles away, is unsafe…refugees there have been attacked by locals. They also fear that relocation is a trick, designed to force them to accept resettlement in Papua New Guinea.

Australia has set up three facilities in Lorengau. Two to house about 300 refugees each while they await resettlement. The third, to hold about 150 men who have been denied refugee status, while they await repatriation – a trip back to their home country. 

With time running out, the Australian government offered another alternative - transfer to the detention camp in the island nation of Nauru, which holds about 1,200 people. One of the Manus detainees, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, rejected the offer as completely unacceptable.

In an essay for Radio New Zealand he wrote, “After more than four years, the Australian Government still refuses to solve the problem by taking refugees to a safe place and instead is trying to and them to another hell.”

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.
Related Stories