German president raises refugee emergency on Manus with Australian PM

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-05 03:45:31|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier raised the situation at the Manus Island refugee camp with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday during a meeting in Perth, German news agency DPA reported on Saturday.

The German president is in Perth to attend a German-Australian business conference.

"I was assured that options for better care and accommodation for the remaining refugees will be examined," Steinmeier said, quoted by the DPA report.

Australia, according to the German president, was looking for a quick solution to the refugee crisis that included resettlement options.

On Friday, United Nations aid agencies called on the Australian government to stop its "policy of deterrence by rescuing people at sea, mistreating them and abandoning them".

"We are concerned by events in the past week at Australia's offshore Regional Processing Center on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where refugees and asylum seekers are holding out after the Australian government's decision to close the facility and pull out its support staff," said Rupert Colville, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

"We share the concerns of other UN agencies, including UNHCR, about what is an unfolding humanitarian emergency," he added.

The spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Babar Baloch said, "Australia's policy of deterrence by rescuing people at sea, mistreating them and abandoning them has become a notion of cruelty."

Both UNHCR and OHCHR said they are seriously concerned about the well-being of the 600 men who remain at the center due to both a lack of basic amenities as well as rising tensions with the surrounding local population.

The situation at the Manus Island refugee camp in Papua New Guinea has deteriorated since Australia shut down the center on Tuesday.

Some 600 refugees have refused to move to temporary accommodation -- some of which is not yet ready -- in the island's main town due to fears of being attacked by locals, according to the DPA report.

Electricity and food supplies have been cut off, while men at the camp have been digging into the ground to find drinking water, according to photos shared on social media.