Manus Island detention centre begins to close

May 20, 2017

Immigration officials told asylum seekers and refugees in Manus Island detention centre on May 15 that the centre will be closing, beginning on May 28 and completely shut down by October 31. This comes after a PNG supreme court last year ruled the detention centre was unconstitutional and must be closed.

The Australian government has refused to bring any refugees to Australia and is widely reported to be pressuring them to accept deportation with threats and bribes.

Refugees have been told they will never be given protection in Australia. Some may be eligible for protection under the US refugee deal. However the US is under no obligation to accept anyone.

This announcement was secretly recorded on May 15 as it was given to men in Mike compound.

* * *

I have a message from the PNG government regarding the closure of Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC).

PNG, with Australian government support, will close the Manus RPC on October 31.

Services will progressively end and the demolition of remaining buildings will soon begin. Foxtrot will be the first compound to close, starting with M Block on May 28.

You cannot stay at the RPC. You need to consider your options. No-one will be resettled in Australia.

Refugees can move to accommodation in the PNG community, or temporarily relocate to East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre, or return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance, or move to a third country where you have a right to reside.

Non-refugees can return home voluntarily with reintegration assistance, or be removed by the government of PNG without any reintegration assistance.

Non-refugees have no other options.

The deadline for expressing an interest in voluntary return with assistance is August 31.

Expressions of interest lodged after August 31 will only be managed by PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority. This applies to everyone, refugees and non-refugees.

The arrangement with the US to start the resettlement of refugees from PNG remains in place. Further visits to PNG by US authorities will happen in the coming months.

As Manus Regional Processing Centre is closing, interviews at the RPC will cease. Interviews in other locations in PNG are being arranged, and you will not need to return to Manus Island.

Remember that resettlement countries always consider a person's history of behaviour before accepting them for resettlement, including both good and bad behaviour. Disruptive or illegal behaviour could exclude you from resettlement.

Foxtrot Compound will close by June 30 and N Block will close by May 28. Once closed, electricity will be turned off and your belongings will be relocated. The area will be locked and no-one will be permitted to enter.

N Block residents should talk to staff about moving, and prepare to move. Refugees can go to East Lorengau Transit Centre. Non-refugees can voluntarily depart PNG or temporarily move to Mike Compound.

Other Mike and Foxtrot residents should start thinking about their options and prepare to move, as Foxtrot Compound will be closed by June 30.

In coming months other compounds will also be closed and demolished.

Everyone will need to move out of Manus RPC before it shuts down. Do not leave it too late to make a decision.

Further information about the next phase of Manus Regional Processing Centre demolition will be provided in due course.

Closure of the RPC will not affect your status as a refugee or a non-refugee. Options available for you as a refugee or a non-refugee will not change.

You need to consider your options and make an informed decision about your future. The closure of RPC is an opportunity to get on with your life.

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