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New Zealand to discuss taking Manus Island detainees: reports

2 November 2017 1:58 AM
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New Zealand to discuss taking Manus Island detainees: reports

Newly-appointed New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will raise the closure of the Manus Island detention centre with Malcolm Turnbull when the leaders meet for the first time on Sunday, according to local media reports.

The New Zealand Herald reports Ms Ardern said on Thursday she had sympathy for the asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island, and with Australia’s stance on immigration.

"I think anyone would look at a situation like that and see the human face of what is an issue that New Zealand is in the lucky position of not having to struggle with, [as] Australia has," Ms Ardern reportedly said.

"I am looking forward, though, to having a conversation directly with the prime minister on Sunday about some of those issues - and New Zealand's role and view on Manus Island in particular."

Over 600 detainees at the Manus Island detention centre are facing an anxious wait following the closure of the facility on Tuesday, but the Australian government says alternative housing is available.

Ms Ardern will make her first trip to Australia as Prime Minister this weekend.

In June 2016, then-Prime Minister John Key said New Zealand would take 150 refugees each year from Australian detention centres if asked to, a promise Ms Ardern said she is willing to uphold.

The detainees on Manus Island have barricaded themselves inside the centre where all electricity has been shut off.

“Some of the refugees, they were digging in the ground to find water, and they were fighting to find water,” Mr Boochani said.

Mr Boochani said one of the detainees self-harmed on Wednesday morning and another has serious stomach problems and is in a “very serious condition”.

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.

Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop says it made "no sense" for detainees to remain in the centre, but she won't guarantee their safety if they leave the camp.

"The Papua New Guinea government is a sovereign government and is responsible for law and order and security on their islands in their nation," Ms Bishop told ABC radio on Wednesday.

Ms Bishop says food, water, electricity and medical services will be provided at alternative accommodation on the island.

Locals are reportedly blocking the construction of new refugee accommodation, with doubts about whether there are enough beds.

Greens senator Nick McKim, who is on Manus Island, has labelled Immigration Minister Peter Dutton a "monster" over his handling of the closure of the centre.

He warned deaths were inevitable and the minister "could have blood on his hands".

Mr Dutton on Tuesday attacked Senator McKim for spreading false information and inciting trouble in the tense final hours of the centre's shutdown.

"It's a badge of honour to be attacked by a racist, a fascist, a monster, and a serial abuser of human rights like Peter Dutton," Senator McKim told AAP from Manus Island on Wednesday.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, and MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.

Source: sbs.com.au

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