The United Nations called on Australia to stop a “humanitarian emergency” unfolding at a detention centre in Papua New Guinea on Thursday, urging an end to a tense days-long stand-off between refugees and authorities.
The Manus Island camp, set up to hold and process asylum-seekers under Australia’s harsh immigration policy, was officially closed Tuesday after it was ruled unconstitutional by PNG’s Supreme Court.
But some 600 men have locked themselves inside despite water and electricity being cut and dwindling food supplies, saying they are fearful for their safety if they move to transition centres amid reports locals do not want them there.
“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today reiterates its call to Australia to stop a humanitarian emergency unfolding on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea,” the organisation said in a statement.
Describing the situation as “increasingly tense and unstable”, the agency said there was inadequate accommodation outside the camp for all of the men, with one centre still incomplete.