UNHCR finds some progress amid problems at Manus Island processing centre

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© REUTERS/Australian Maritime and Safety Authority

The United Nations refugee agency has criticized Australia’s immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea, saying it does not meet international standards.

In its second report on the Manus Island processing centre, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said although there were some improvements since its last visit in January, there were still major shortcomings.

The centre is currently housing 250 asylum seekers sent there by Australia for off-shore processing.

UNHCR Spokesperson Adrian Edwards says the findings are troubling.

“Living conditions are still harsh, processing remains slow and asylum-seekers are growing despondent over the lack of certainty about their future. The team observed cramped living quarters, especially for the single men who live in canvas tents. They told UNHCR that each tent accommodated four to six men, it was especially hot from late afternoon into the night. Many also expressed concern about hygiene issues related to ablutions and bathroom facilities, food preparation, and poor access to medical services."

UNHCR said the lack of certainty among asylum-seekers over their future, coupled with slow progress in establishing effective processing arrangements, was contributing to pervasive frustration and despondency. Left unresolved, this could increase psycho-social harm for those who are affected.

This is Andrew Martin, for UN Radio in Geneva.

Duration: 1’23"

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