NEWS

Manus Island: Final Power Cut Off As 600 Refugees Still Refuse To Leave

Their last hope of being allowed to stay hangs on a plea to the PNG Supreme Court.

01/11/2017 10:12 AM AEDT | Updated 01/11/2017 11:08 AM AEDT

Refugees have passed a restless night inside the now-closed Manus Island detention centre, as one by one power was turned out in each camp.

The Australian-run centre where many of the men have been held for more than four years closed permanently on Tuesday, but many of the 850 refugees remain, afraid of violence from angry locals if they move to the three new sites in the main town of Lorengau.

At 7am on Wednesday morning it was already 26 degrees outside the tents, but the men are rationing their water carefully. Tap water has been turned off and it's three days since the last food packages were handed out.

Tired, hungry and constantly fearful of attack from either the PNG police military or angry locals, the more than 600 refugees are holding out for as long as they can -- more afraid of what lies outside than the self-imposed torture within.

"They took generators this morning. There is not power in whole centre. The toilets do not work. All refugees woke up again in fear," Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani tweeted from inside the camp on Wednesday morning.

Behind the high fences of the Lombrum Navy Base, the men are mostly out of reach of the local Manusians, but they fear their new accommodation -- many of which are still stranded demountables surrounded by mud and construction works, without fences or security -- will not be able to protect them from agitated locals.

The last Australian and PNG authorities packed up and left the base on Tuesday as control of the centre was officially handed back to the military.

And according to multiple refugees inside the centre, many locals are already made their displeasure known.

Dozens of locals armed with machetes looted the camp on Tuesday, taking everything from chairs and fire alarms to fans and air conditioners, Sudanese refugee Abdul Mohammad told AAP.

Their last hope of being allowed to remain in the centre hangs on a ruling by the PNG Supreme Court, which is expected to hear an appeal by several of the refugees including Behrouz Boochani on Wednesday.

The court ruled in April that the refugees were being held in the Manus detention centre unconstitutionally.

The Greens Senator for Tasmania, Nick McKim, has travelled to Manus to join in the refugees' peaceful protest.

"It's quite instructive that these people have been murdered, attacked by the Papua New Guinea Navy with machine guns and they still think that this is the safest place for them," he told HuffPost Australia on Tuesday.

The Australian Government is refusing to take responsibility for the refugees, saying it is in the hands of the PNG Government -- despite the country's Immigration Minister saying earlier in the week that PNG "has no obligation" to deal with those who don't want to settle there or who have been found not to be refugees.

But on Wednesday morning, Acting PM Julie Bishop reiterated that the safety of the men was the responsibility of Papua New Guinea and urged the refugees to move to the new accommodation on Manus, despite it not being complete.

When asked on RN Breakfast if the Australian Government could guarantee the refugees' safety, she responded that "Papua New Guinea is a sovereign nation of 8 million people".

"Those who have been found to be refugees can be settled in PNG or they can apply to be resettled elsewhere... so they have other options available to them," she told Sky News.

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