Manus Island refugee camp set for closure by Australia

Australia and Papua New Guinea have agreed to close a controversial Australian-funded prison camp for asylum seekers on Manus Island, although the ultimate fate of 800 refugees held in the camp remains unclear.

Under Australian law, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to detention centres on Manus Island, off Papua New Guinea (PNG), or the Pacific island of Nauru.

They are never eligible to be resettled in Australia.

"Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are in agreement that the centre is to be closed," Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said in a statement on Wednesday, following a meeting with Peter Dutton, Australia's immigration minister.

"A series of options are being advanced and implemented. It is important that this process is not rushed out but carried out in a careful manner."

There was no mention of a closing date.

Some asylum seekers have spent years in the camps, which have been criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups, with numerous reports of abuse and self-harm amongst detainees, including children.

Some in PNG are unhappy with the prospect of hundreds of asylum seekers being resettled into their country, and there have been reports of asylum seekers being attacked by locals.

Australia says the policy is needed to stop asylum seekers dying at sea on the dangerous boat journey from Indonesia to Australia. Hundreds of people died attempting the trip in the years before the policy was put in place.

The announcement came after a newspaper published leaked documents detailing more than 2,000 incidents of sexual abuse, assault and attempted self-harm, reported over two years at the Nauru detention centre. The harsh conditions and reports of systemic child abuse at the camps have drawn wide criticism at home and abroad.

Source: AlJazeera

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