The future of 833 men detained in Australia's offshore refugee prison on Manus Island has become increasingly bleak after immigration minister Peter Dutton's announced the facility would be shut down last month.
Two thirds (551) of the men on Manus Island have had their claims for refugee status assessed.
Despite acknowledging 98% of these detainees are genuine refugees - they have a "well founded fear of persecution" - the Australian government has offered some men upwards of $10,000 to abandon their right to protection and return home, staff on the island told Guardian Australia.
Many of the refugees belong to ethnic minorities - Rohingyas, Somalis and Sudanese - that are persecuted in their homelands.
“We all feel terrified and horrified about what the next step is," a detainee on the island told BuzzFeed News in August.
“We all know that Dutton is a very scary person and he will never plan humane
things for refugees.”
Prisoners were this week handed a "communication guide" that explained their two options: they could settle in Papua New Guinea or in any country where they had a "right to live".
"The police may direct the movement of those who refuse to cooperate," the document warned.
A Manus Island detainee last month told BuzzFeed News men at the centre do not want to be settled in Papua New Guinea.
“Almost every day one of us get beaten up in the town by locals," he said.
Gay detainees are particularly worried, as homosexuality is still a crime in the country.
“They are terrified of being persecuted,” he said. “It’s punishable by up to 14 years of imprisonment.”
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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