By Will Koulouris
Authorities in the island nation of Papua New Guinea have begun action on Thursday to force the deportation of refugees housed in the Manus Island facility.
The move has drawn outrage from Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim, who says the Papua New Guinean government are targeting 60 men, who are still awaiting appeal, yet their refugee status has as of yet, been refused.
A lawyer for the refugees on the island, says a Nepalese asylum seeker has been removed from the centre on Thursday, to be flown back to Nepal via the Papua New Guinean capital of Port Moresby.
“It’s a concern that some of them, not all of them, but some of them or even a few of them, may not have been assessed properly.” Ben Lomai, lawyer for the refugees said.
This comes as tensions have been rising on Manus Island for months, with the ongoing refugee housing leading to complaints by locals about their behaviour, while the refugees are frustrated by their uncertain future.
The commander of the Manus Province police force, David Yapu, said Monday his force is struggling to cope with the demands of having the asylum seekers housed there, and lacks adequate staff.
“We currently only have 55 police and when you look at the asylum seekers it’s about 800-plus,” Yapu said.
Yapu claims that so far 39 asylum seekers had faced court on a variety of charges through last year, and says the number will only continue to grow.
“My prediction is that by the end of 2017 we should reach about 50 or 60 that have gone through the court.” Yapu said.
Refugees on the island are also looking for other options, with Australian authorities remaining steadfast in their stance to not allow any of the asylum seekers into the country.
One refugee, who wished to remain anonymous said that Manus Island is too much of a culture shock for them to settle there instead.
“It’s not possible for Western country people and other Asian peoples (to) live here, because their culture is different, and their living style is different,” the refugee said.
“So we don’t accept to settle here, so we (are) looking for a third country.”