Manus Island Detention Centre: Flies In The Food, Short Of Water And Not Enough Toilets

Cramped conditions. Photo: Amnesty International

A new report by Amnesty International says conditions suffered by refugees at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea violate human rights.

Many of the 1,110 men within the Manus refugee camp don’t have enough water and health services, and sanitation is poor.

They are crowded into housed hanger-like buildings of World War II vintage. Some newer structures are converted shipping containers.

One refugee told the three Amnesty International visitors: “The food is edible. But there are a lot of flies in the food. They even found a human tooth in the food.”

Most of the latrines had no hand soap when the two Amnesty inspected them.

And Amnesty says there are too few showers and toilets to cope with the number of men, resulting in queuing, frequent need for maintenance and unhygienic conditions.

Another refugee said: “I get about four to five hours sleep a night, due to tension, and having nothing to keep me busy. I am just thinking and thinking through the night. I am mostly thinking about how I can’t do anything for my family.”

Amnesty International wants the Regional Resettlement Arrangement with Papua New Guinea reviewed and an end to offshore processing and the offshore detention of asylum seekers.

It says: “All asylum seekers held in the Manus Island detention centre must be transferred back to Australian territory and given full access to asylum procedures in Australia.”

The Amnesty report detailed these complaints from refugees at Manus Island:

  • Overcrowded conditions with little or no privacy.
  • Little relief from the stifling heat and humidity.
  • Sometimes less than 500ml of water per person.
  • Insufficient health services.
  • Queuing for hours for food in stifling heat and no shade.
  • Not enough toilets or showers.
  • No shoes.
  • Little or no contact with family loved ones.
  • Gay men persecuted for their sexuality.

Last month the UNHCR, the United Nations body dealing with refugees, said it was “deeply troubled” the Manus and Nauru detention centres did not provide safe and humane conditions.

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