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Manus Island to close

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
Manus Island to close

Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed

Peter O'Neill Prime Minister, Papua New Guinea

Australia and Papua New Guinea say they have agreed to close a controversial Australia-funded asylum seeker detention centre on Manus Island.

The ultimate fate of 800 refugees living in the camp remains unclear.

In a statement, the Australian government said refugees would be given support to stay in Papua or return to their country of origin.

What are conditions like?

The announcement came after a newspaper published leaked documents detailing more than 2,000 incidents of sexual abuse, assault and attempted self-harm.

The camps at Manus and Nauru have histories of violent protests.

The harsh conditions and reports of systematic child abuse at the camps have drawn wide criticism at home and abroad.

There have been numerous reports of abuse and self-harm among detainees, including children.

How long do people stay in the camps?

Some have spent years in the camps.

How do Papua’s residents feel?

Some are unhappy at the prospect of hundreds of asylum seekers being resettled in their country.

There have already been reports of asylum seekers being attacked by locals.

There have been recent reports of clashes between locals and refugees from the centre.

What is the international response?

The decision to close the camp has been welcomed by human rights campaigners.

The camps at Manus and Nauru have been criticised by the UN and human rights groups.

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, described the situation at the Manus and Nauru centres as “increasingly dire and untenable.”

What is Australia’s policy on refugees?

Under Australian law, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, or Manus Island off Papua New Guinea.

They are never eligible to be resettled in Australia.

Australia says the policy is needed to stop asylum seekers dying at sea on the dangerous boat journey from Indonesia to Australia.

What they are saying

“Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed,” – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

“Our position, confirmed again today with PNG, is that no one from Manus Island will ever be settled in Australia,” – Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says refugees will given support to stay in PNG or return to their country of origin.

“Nearly a thousand men on Manus have endured dirty, cramped conditions, inadequate care and violence. Finally, it is time to let them move on with their lives in safety and dignity,” – Elaine Pearson, Australia Director for Human Rights Watch welcomes the decision to close the camp.