New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern slams 'unacceptable' Manus Island situation

Cheryl Sanders
November 14, 2017

The approximately 420 asylum seekers and refugees choosing to remain at the now-closed Manus Island processing centre have been without food, water or medical supplies for nearly two weeks.

Under the USA deal, up to 1,250 asylum seekers detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific could be resettled in the United States in return for Australia accepting refugees from Central America.

Ms Ardern has continued to push New Zealand's offer to accept 150 refugees and asylum seekers from Australia's offshore detention centres since her first face-to-face meeting with her Australian counterpart in Sydney a week ago.

Ardern said she raised the issue with Turnbull in passing, but they have not discussed it further.


"This is a strong relationship that we have with Australia, it's an important relationship but as I say, when there is information to update you on then I will", she said.

Turnbull this month rejected the refugee resettlement offer from his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, preferring instead to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former US President Barack Obama past year.

"I see the human face of this and I see the need and the role New Zealand needs to play".

The offer to take in 150 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru has been on the table since 2013 but is an issue Ms Ardern has gone hard on since becoming prime minister. I think it's clear that we don't see what's happening there as acceptable, that's why the offer's there'.


Papua New Guinea authorities started to dismantle makeshift shelters at the centre over the weekend, while the men reportedly began digging more wells.

"Those refugees were sitting in their compounds and staring at us without any signs of moving out from the centre", the Manus provincial police commander said in the statement.

Australia says allowing asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores would only encourage people smugglers in Asia and see more people risk their lives trying to sail to Australia.

The PNG government said about 120 refugees had already quit the protest and moved to three facilities in the island's main town.


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