NEWS

Manus Refugees Bracing For A Sleepless Night

"At this moment we are expecting at any time Navy soldiers to attack us."

31/10/2017 10:02 PM AEDT | Updated 31/10/2017 10:02 PM AEDT
Nick McKim/Twitter
Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania Nick McKim with the Manus Island refugees on Tuesday.

Refugees refusing to leave the Manus Island detention centre were bracing for a restless night and fearing attack as the deadline for closure passed.

More than 600 refugees and asylum seekers remain inside the centre at the Lombrum Navy Base in Papua New Guinea out of fear for their safety outside.

The group made an eleventh-hour bid in the PNG Supreme Court to prevent the closure on Tuesday.

Electricity was expected to be cut to the centre about 5pm local time but two hours later there was still power.

Refugees had already been catching rainwater using bins and containers for drinking.

Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said those at the centre were continuing peaceful resistance.

"We don't know what is going to happen tonight, it will be so dangerous," he told AAP

"At this moment we are expecting at any time Navy soldiers to attack us."

All Australian and local staff left the centre early in the morning and there were multiple reports of Manus Island locals wielding machetes looting air conditioners and fans.

Detainees fear they will not be safe at three other facilities where they are meant to relocate around the island's main town of Lorengau.

A Human Rights Watch report last week detailed cases of refugees allegedly being stabbed and robbed in the town while trying to visit the supermarket.

Extra PNG police and defence forces had been flown into Manus.

Greens senator Nick McKim is on the island and spoke with centre occupants on Tuesday afternoon.

"They still believe that despite everything that's happened to them at the detention centre it remains the least unsafe place for them to be," he said, adding that he believed there was still a 150-bed shortfall at alternative facilities.

He rejected reports they were preparing to arm themselves with knives and furniture and riot.

"I saw no evidence of that," he said.

Local media has reported PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas as saying the detainees won't be forced to leave the centre.

Acting prime minister Julie Bishop maintained refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island will be guaranteed all appropriate services at their alternative accommodation.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton had little sympathy for those left.

"They have long claimed the Manus (centre) was a hellhole but the moment it was to be closed they demanded it be kept open," he said.

Labor's immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann urged the government to urgently de-escalate tensions and ensure safety.

"Transferring refugees from one centre to another is not a long-term solution. These people urgently need viable third country resettlement options," he said.

Amnesty International's Kate Schuetze, who is on Manus to observe the closure, said PNG police and defence forces had a history of violence against refugees.

Ms Schuetze pointed to the Good Friday shooting, when nine people were injured after PNG military personnel opened fire on the Manus Island centre.

PNG's government has warned Australia it will take no responsibility for "non-refugees" and people who refuse to settle in PNG, saying they are the obligation of Australia.

The Lombrum centre was forced to close after the PNG Supreme Court ruled in April 2016 that Australia's detention of refugees and asylum seekers there was illegal and unconstitutional.

Six detainees have died on Manus Island - including one who was murdered - since the detention centre was reopened in 2012.

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