Refugees held by Australia on Manus Island have been offered the chance to move to Australia’s other offshore detention island of Nauru.
The detention centre on Manus has become increasingly tense, chaotic and unstable in recent weeks, as the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments scramble to close it down by the self-imposed deadline of 31 October.
Hundreds of refugees are refusing to leave the centre – ruled illegal by PNG’s highest court more than a year ago – saying they are not safe in Manus’s main town of Lorengau, where the governments are trying to move them.
The Australian government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars building new housing in and around Lorengau and removed and diminished medical, food and other services in the detention centre, even banning cigarettes, in an attempt to get people to leave. But few refugees have been willing to move.
On Tuesday night, authorities in the Manus detention centre posted a notice inviting refugees who were in the process of applying to be resettled in the US to volunteer to move to Nauru. Refugees who want to move must apply by 23 October.
“The government of Nauru will then decide which refugees can transfer,” it said. “Refugees transferring to Nauru will have access to the same services and resettlement arrangements as other refugees in Nauru.
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