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Last Update: 2 Day and 2 Hour and 23 Minute ago
News code: 24010
Published Date: Tuesday 7 November 2017 - 12:26:15
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UN asks Australia to treat refugees as "human"

UN asks Australia to treat refugees as
World  - The United Nations human rights commission has denounced the Australian government for withdrawing support to former Manus Island detainees as the stand-off over the provision of services to more than 600 men enters its fifth day.

In a statement, Rupert Colville, spokesman for high commissioner Zaid Ra'ad Al Hussain, said the UN's human rights committee had "serious concerns about the welfare, safety and well-being" of the men who remained at the centre in Papua New Guinea, which was formally decommissioned on Tuesday.

Water to the centre and essential medical services were also cut off on Tuesday, while electricity was disconnected on Wednesday morning. The men have been digging for water.

Colville said the men were "too frightened to leave".

"We call on the Australian government, as the party who interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services which have been cut off since authorities shuttered the facility on 31 October," he said.

The commission repeated its criticism that Australia's offshore refugee processing regime was "unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations" and said asylum seekers and refugees should be immediately transferred to Australia for processing.

Colville said Australia and PNG had responsibilities under the 1951 Refugee Convention to protect and provide for the men.

"The men have said they fear they will be subjected to violence at the hands of locals if they leave the compound - and, given there have been violent incidents in the past, we believe these fears should be respected and satisfactorily addressed," he said.

"Human dignity should be ensured throughout the entire processing of their asylum claims. We urge the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea to fully respect their human rights, including their specific rights under international refugee law, and to enter into a dialogue with the men to ensure these rights are duly respected, protected and fulfilled."

The government has not addressed a report made by the UN high commissioner for refugees, which inspected the alternative accommodation this week and said one of the units was not ready for occupation.

Australia's offshore detention policies have been heavily criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups but are backed the centre-right government and the Labor opposition.

News Code: 24010
Published Date: Tuesday 7 November 2017 - 12:26:15
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