Department of Immigration and Border Protection: Recent media reporting regarding conditions at the former Manus Regional Processing Centre (RPC) fails to acknowledge that those still residing there are doing so by choice. (see accompanying Video)

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As we have previously said, at 5pm on Tuesday 31 October 2017, PNG authorities formally closed the Manus RPC. From that time, the Department’s staff no longer had authority to remain on PNG’s Lombrum Naval Base and departed, along with other service provider personnel and PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority personnel.

At the departure of Australian personnel, the former Manus RPC had running water, clean facilities, and functioning ablutions (see accompanying photos). Residents had also been informed, weekly since May 2017, that the RPC was closing and these services and supports would transition to alternative accommodation.

Following PNG’s closure of the RPC on 31 October 2017, the facilities provided at that location were switched off and works to fully decommission the RPC-site were scheduled. It should come as no surprise that the refusal of some to move from the decommissioned RPC site has allowed these facilities to fall into disrepair.

We categorically reject all claims that this represents a ‘humanitarian emergency’ as has been alleged in some quarters. Refugees and failed asylum seekers staying at the RPC-site are making an informed choice to do so, and have been provided with information and assurances from the PNG Government that facilities are ready and waiting at alternative locations.

The PNG Supreme Court has refused legal applications to reopen and restore services at the former-RPC. It is important to note that the Court was “satisfied” that the Government of PNG has provided suitable alternative accommodation that; allows for free movement and access of refugees and failed asylum seekers; is of good standard; and, is sufficient for their daily needs.

A small group of people, intent on coming to Australia, continue to misrepresent the circumstances they face. In that context we note comments from the Prime Minister of PNG who has said that “those involved in disruption have been identified and appropriate means will be used to apprehend individuals who are causing unnecessary anxiety and violence.”

PNG-determined refugees and failed asylum seekers should move to the alternative locations and access the services and support that the PNG government has provided. Anyone advocating otherwise is encouraging former residents of the RPC to remain, at their own risk, in potentially hazardous and unhygienic circumstances.

There are already around 150 refugees and failed asylum seekers who have moved to, and are receiving services at, the alternative accommodation sites.

Source: Department of Immigration and Border Protection.