Manus Refugees 'Shunted Out Of Hospital' As PNG Prepares For APEC
Refugees have reported being shunted out of hospital and out of sight on Manus Island as Papua New Guinea prepares to host the APEC summit.
About 70 refugees and asylum seekers from the Australian-run accommodation facilities on Manus Island, and former residents of the Australian detention centre there, have been in PNG's capital Port Moresby for hospital treatment.
But many say they have been forced from the hospital, despite still requiring treatment for a number of complex and serious conditions, as the city finalises preparations for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next week.
There are claims the refugees were removed to free up room for APEC visitors and delegates.
At least five refugees have attempted suicide in recent days, both in Moresby and on Manus, including one man on Sunday.
"We believe 50 sick men will go back [to Manus]," one refugee said.
More than 20 have already been removed, some allegedly forcibly, from a hotel in Port Moresby. Radio New Zealand reported one refugee had been pushed onto a bus while not wearing any pants.
"Sick men were forced by police, immigration and security to leave Port Moresby and return to Manus because of APEC," the refugee said.
"Early Friday morning, 17 cars brought police, navy and immigration to violently force 16 men from their beds and escort them to the airport."
Another refugee reported being woken at 3am to be told to pack and leave immediately.
Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian refugee and journalist on Manus, told 10 daily many had returned to their Manus lodgings.
"They forced them back to Manus. There are some patients [who were] in Port Moresby that were sent back because of the APEC meeting," he said.
"They woke people up at 4am and sent them back. They sent 16 people on Friday and seven people on Saturday."
Many of the men in Port Moresby for treatment had been waiting to visit the hospital for some time. Some claimed they had been told they might not be able to go back to Moresby for further treatment until next year.
Refugees and asylum seekers also say medical treatment on Manus, especially for mental health, is inadequate.
Despite the situation seemingly set to change for families and children on Nauru, with the federal government flagging plans to have all refugee kids off the island by Christmas, those on Manus Island have not been given such assurances.
READ MORE: Labor Wants NZ Resettlement For Nauru Kids
Boochani said suicide attempts were mounting and men were increasingly losing hope.
"The situation is getting worse day by day. It's a real concern here because the suicide attempt and self-harm obviously has increased over the past three months, particularly these days."
This week also marks one year since the former Lombrum detention centre was officially closed, following a ruling from PNG's Supreme Court that detention on Manus was in contravention of the country's constitution.
Despite power, water and other essential services being turned off, refugees refused to leave the centre and began a weeks-long standoff in defiance of PNG police and authorities.
Eventually the men gave in as police tried to force them out, following a lack of food and water, and were moved to several new facilities on the island.
PNG media report more than 600 refugees and asylum seekers remain on Manus.
Dozens have been approved to settle in the US in recent months under a deal with the American government, but many more have been rejected and face uncertainty over whether they will ever be resettled in another country.
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