UN experts call for immediate action on the humanitarian crisis on Manus Island

Overnight UN experts slammed the Australian Government’s ongoing cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum.

On the second, and final day, of its hearing by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Australian Government earned further ire for its treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum.

Amy Frew, Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said this is the second time in a month Australia has faced scathing criticism by an independent committee of UN experts.

“Enough is enough. The tide of international condemnation is rising. The situation on Manus Island is so dire that the International humanitarian NGO Medecins San Frontiere is on the ground attempting to treat the men. But the cruelty of the Australian Government is such that doctors are being refused entry to the new detention centres to treat them,” said Ms Frew.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, sitting in Geneva, joined the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in calling for immediate action to ensure the safety of the men on Manus Island, which is in the midst of a current humanitarian crisis of the Australian Government’s own making.

“In the last month we have seen men beaten and starved, forced into unsafe living arrangements, and despairing. After four and a half years, we can’t rely on NGOs, the UN, or Donald Trump to save these men. Their lives are in Malcolm Turnbull’s hands, and he must act immediately to save them. This dark chapter of Australia’s history won’t be over until every last man, woman and child on Manus Island and Nauru are rebuilding their lives in safety,” said Ms Frew.

UN Committee Member, Nicolás Maragun, described conditions on Manus Island and Nauru as “desperate and dangerous” and grilled Australia over why, after four and a half years, only 54 men, women and children have been resettled in safety in the US, while over 2000 remain stuck in limbo on remote islands. Of the 2000 people, 1,792 have already been found to be refugees.

“We’ve seen report after report on the emerging disaster on Manus Island, but still Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton sit in Canberra with their heads in the sand. The UN has spoken, the world has seen. These lives are in their hands, and these are the lives they can save,” said Ms Frew.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of Malcolm Turnbull’s own making. He can’t close his eyes to this disaster any longer. Every man, woman and child must immediately be evacuated to safety in Australia,” said Ms Frew.

For interviews or further information please call:

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519

Source: Human Rights Law Centre

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