MEDIA STATEMENT | Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary
Yesterday the last of the asylum seekers on Manus were reluctantly transferred from the 'processing centre' to accommodation in the capital Lorengau after a month-long stand-off. On Thursday this statement had been issued by the PNG police commissioner....
PORT MORESBY - Police Commissioner Gari Baki has said that a total of 50 people were peacefully relocated from the Lombrum based Regional Processing Centre to the two immigration centres on Manus Island.
Of this number, 36 non-refugees and 13 refugees left voluntarily after being briefed and convinced by PNG government officials whilst one, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani, was escorted from the centre by government officials.
“I am glad that this relocation exercise was done peacefully and without use of force,” said Mr Baki. “Kurdish journalist Boochani was not arrested, nor was he charged.
“He was stirring up trouble and telling the other refugees not to move out of the centre so police and officers from the Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority simply escorted him out of the decommissioned centre and transported him to the East Lorengau Refugee Centre where he now remains.
“Everybody has been jumping up and down about the treatment of the refugees which is nothing but the best so far,” said Mr Baki.
“Critics are failing to acknowledge the pressure, stress and strain the refugees are placing on PNG government officials on Manus as well as the local Manus people.
“We have 10 Immigration officials and 50 policemen on Manus trying to manage more than 600 refugees whilst at the same time attend to ongoing law and order issues on the island province.”
Mr Baki said the PNG authorities were doing the best they can and expressed frustration that the refugees continue to be stubborn and defiant.
“The fact is that we are not moving them into the jungle,” he said. “They are being relocated to two centres where there is water, electricity, food and medical services.
“We now have a grave concern for the health of the refugee remaining at Lombrum. Health authorities have cautioned against the outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.
“Concerns raised by the refugees about their safety and security at the new centres are unfounded. Manus is a peaceful island and I am sure it is a walk in the park compared to what they left behind in their respective countries.
“I would urge churches, international organisations and the media to refocus their attention and take a much wider appreciation of the Manus regional processing centre and its impact, not just on the refugees but also on local Manusians as well. Manus and its people will never be the same again.
“I am appealing to the 328 refugees still residing in Lombrum to be considerate and voluntarily relocate to their new camps where they will not miss out on anything,” Mr Baki said.