Parts of Manus Island camp to be shut ‘within weeks’.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the government is looking to close the offshore Manus detention centre by the 31st of October 2017.
Papua New Guinea immigration officials have reportedly told detainees at the detention centre that the closure of the camp will start in two weeks.
Mr Dutton could not confirm a specific timeline of how the closure would be carried out but said parts of the camp will be shut down in the lead up to the end of October.
‘The government’s position on this has been consistent for a long period of time and that is we want to see Manus closed, at the latest, by the 31st of October,’ he said.
‘In the run up to the end of October there will be decommissioning of certain parts of the regional processing centre.’
There are 800 men at the facility and Mr Morrison confirms about half of those are not considered ‘legitimate refugees’.
‘The most important message to people on the Island is that if they are not refugees they need to make plans to return back to their country of origin,’ he said.
‘People that have been found to be refugees under the deal struck between prime minister’s O’Neill and Mr Rudd the people will settle in PNG.’
Refugees awaiting acceptance for resettlement by the United States under a controversial deal between the government and the administration of former US president Barack Obama will be relocated to the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre.
The immigration minister said the government still doesn’t have a specific number of refugees that will be resettled in the US.
‘We don’t know how many people will be eligible ultimately to go to the United States.’
Those deemed not to be legitimate refugees will be sent back to their countries of origin.
However Greens spokesman Nick McKim holds grave fears for hundreds of men on the island.
‘They could … go back to the countries they have fled from and face persecution, personal danger, arbitrary imprisonment or worse,’ Senator McKim told reporters in Hobart on Tuesday.
‘They were told they could go to a third country such as Cambodia – which we know doesn’t have the supports necessary to support refugees – or they were told they could take their chances in Papua New Guinea.’
Mr Morrison reiterated the government’s stance on in the importance of strong border security, taking a hit at Labor.
‘The intelligence reports are very clear; the people smugglers are here, they are looking for weakness; they would clap an election of a Shorten government because in their minds it would see the boats restarting,’ he said.
‘This government won’t let the boats restart.’