back to top

The Men On Manus Island Say They Are Running Out Of Food And Water

"I have no fucking idea what is going to happen. This is a humanitarian disaster."

Posted on

Hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers detained by the Australian government on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea say they are running out of supplies at their detention centre, which closed yesterday.

More than 600 detainees are refusing to leave the centre, as they fear for their safety in the main town of Lorengau, where they will be forced to move.

The men are awaiting resettlement elsewhere in PNG or in a third country.

On Sunday the men were given a two-day supply of food packs, but most of the contents were quickly consumed, refugees told BuzzFeed News.

Some men are staying hydrated by drinking long-life milk. One refugee said he had eaten Corn Flakes and warm milk for dinner last night but was not sure where his next meal would come from.

"There are no [drinking] water supplies left now," he told BuzzFeed News.

"We don't have power, we are using fire for boiling water."

The men cleaned out rubbish bins to store rainwater to use for the toilets and showering.

Advertisement

Greens senator Nick McKim, who is on Manus Island, said men were staying put because their new accommodation is an "open facility".

"This is a place where locals have regularly attacked detainees with machetes and knives," McKim told BuzzFeed News on Wednesday morning.

"Despite all the deprivation and suffering they have faced inside the centre, they genuinely believe that it is unsafe [in the new accommodation] and that is why they are staying put."

He confirmed food packages and drinking water supplies had stopped and this morning power was cut off.

They took generators this morning. There is not power in whole centre.The toilets do not work. All refugees woke up again in fear.

"People we believe to be contractors have come in and are removing generators so the power infrastructure has been, or is being, removed," McKim said.

"There is no water to flush the toilets so the toilets are full of shit and there is a looming health disaster."

McKim said the men were hoarding salt and sugar which they planned to use to season their water.

'I am charging my phone for the last time now.' #refugee #Manus in Oscar compound

Advertisement

There were concerns for men suffering from mental illness who had run out of their medications, he said.

"I have no fucking idea what is going to happen.

"This is a humanitarian disaster."

Only two of the three facilities that immigration minister Peter Dutton promised would be open by October 31, when the detention centre closed, were actually ready, McKim said.

"The truth is that the West Lorengau house is not complete, it is a muddy mess that is in no fit state to receive people."

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News, but on Tuesday Dutton released a statement accusing McKim of using refugees to "build his public profile".

"Senator McKim's duplicity is breathtaking," Dutton wrote in the statement.

I repeat: not all the facilities that Dutton promised would be completed by now are actually finished. He is a liar. https://t.co/fqHvfOXAIF

"Those found to be refugees can settle within Papua New Guinea as agreed under the arrangement struck between the previous Rudd Labor Government and the Government of Papua New Guinea in 2013," he said.

"The Australian Government has provided reasonable alternate pathways for those who do not wish to resettle in PNG; specifically they can apply for resettlement in the United States or apply to move to Nauru."


Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

Promoted