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Thursday, 23 November 2017 - 10:06
PNG Police enter Manus Island detention center
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Police in Papua New Guinea have entered a former Australian-run detention center in a bid to get asylum seekers who remain there to leave, the Australian government has confirmed.
 
Hundreds of men have refused to leave the Manus Island center since it was shut down on 31 October, citing fears for their safety.
 
On Thursday, the men inside the center said that PNG police had given them a one-hour deadline to leave.
 
Australia said it was a PNG operation.
 
Under a controversial policy, Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.
 
Australia shut down the Manus Island center after a PNG court ruled it was unconstitutional, urging asylum seekers to move to transit centers elsewhere on the island.
 
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation would "not be pressured" into accepting the men, reiterating a long-held policy that such a move would encourage human trafficking.
 
"They should obey the law and the lawful authorities of Papua New Guinea," Mr Turnbull said.
 
One refugee, Abdul Aziz Adam, said about 420 asylum seekers remained in the center on Thursday, and they would act only peacefully.
 
Canberra has steadfastly ruled out allowing the men into Australia, arguing it would prompt further human trafficking and lead to deaths at sea.
 
Refugees had been given the option of permanent resettlement in PNG, applying to live in Cambodia, or requesting a transfer to Nauru. Advocates say few have taken up these options.
 
The US has agreed to take up to 1,250 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru under a resettlement deal. However, it may ultimately accept fewer than that.
 
New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees from the PNG center, but Canberra has resisted this proposal - arguing it would effectively be a "back door" to Australia.
 
(BBC)
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