Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has hit out at the Turnbull government in a blunt statement expressing his grave concerns over the welfare of over 600 refugees on Manus Island who are in need to health services, water, and food.
In the statement issued in Geneva, al-Hussein described the situation on the island in Papua New Guinea as a humanitarian emergency, after the detention centre officially closed on Tuesday. The men on Manus Island have expressed fear that they will be subjected to harm if they leave the centre; a fact which was addressed in the statement.
Under both the Refugee Convention of 1951 and international human rights law, Papua New Guinea and Australia are responsible for ensuring the men on Manus are protected from harm and given access to food, water, and shelter.
The UN’s previous concerns with Australia’s offshore processing were cited, stating that they were “unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations”.
Earlier this week, Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, revealed that a change in government policy allowing the refugees on Manus Island to enter Australia would not be on the horizon.
On Friday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, offered the resettlement of 150 refugees from Australia’s various offshore detention centres; an offer Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, stated that Malcolm Turnbull should consider.