Posts Tagged ‘asylum seekers’

Australia should accept New Zealand offer to resettle refugees: UNHCR

November 14, 2017

AFP

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday urged Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees from an abandoned Australian-run detention center in Papua New Guinea, as about 450 men remain barricaded inside without food or water.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoor

An undated image released November 13, 2017 shows detainees staging a protest inside the compound at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea. Refugee Action Coalition/Handout via REUTERS

The asylum seekers have been holed up inside the center for the past two weeks defying attempts by Australia and Papua New Guinea to close the facility, saying they fear for their safety if moved to transit centers.

With many detainees complaining of illness bought about by the unsanitary conditions in the camp, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) urged Australia to allow 150 of them to resettle in New Zealand.

“We urge Australia to reconsider this and take up the offer,” Nai Jit Lam, deputy regional representative at the UNHCR told Reuters.

Most of the asylum seekers are from Afghanistan, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Syria.

Australia’s “sovereign borders” immigration policy, under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores, has been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups but has bipartisan political support in Australia.

Australia says allowing asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores would only encourage people smugglers in Asia and see more people risk their lives trying to sail to Australia.

Two motions introduced in Australia’s parliament by the Labor and Green parties, and passed in the upper house on Tuesday, call on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to approve the New Zealand proposal.

“This is a foul and bloody stain on Australia’s national conscience,” Greens senator Nick McKim told reporters.

Turnbull this month rejected the refugee resettlement offer from his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, preferring instead to work through an existing refugee swap deal he negotiated with former U.S. President Barack Obama last year.

Under the U.S. deal, up to 1,250 asylum seekers detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific could be resettled in the United States in return for Australia accepting refugees from Central America. So far, the United States has accepted only 54.

Despite Turnbull rejecting the offer, Ardern this week said it remained on the table and she would seek a second meeting with Turnbull to discuss the “unacceptable” situation inside the Manus island detention center.

Water and electricity to the center were disconnected two weeks ago after Australian security withdrew and the camp closed on Oct. 31. The camp gad been declared illegal by a Papua New Guinea Court.

Papua New Guinea has threatened to forcibly move the men if they remain inside the center. It has set three deadlines but all have passed largely without incident.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

Advertisements

Court rejects bid to restore Australia refugee camp services

November 7, 2017

AFP

© BEHROUZ BOOCHANI/AFP/File | This handout photograph taken and provided to AFP by Behrouz Boochani shows refugees and asylum-seekers at the Manus Island camp

SYDNEY (AFP) – A Papua New Guinea court Tuesday rejected a refugee’s appeal to restore water, electricity and food supplies to a shuttered Australian detention camp where hundreds of men have barricaded themselves in.

The remote camp on Manus Island — one of two offshore centres that holds asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat — was closed a week ago after the PNG Supreme Court ruled last year that it was unconstitutional.

But some 600 men have refused to leave despite having no basic services, saying they feared locals outside would be hostile.

One refugee, Iranian Behrouz Boochani, sought an injunction to restore water, power and food supplies, but his application was rejected.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Salamo Injia said in his judgement that there was “no real good reason why they should not voluntarily move” to three transition facilities.

Injia said while some constitutional rights may have been breached when the services were withdrawn, the refugees had “brought those upon themselves” by refusing to leave the camp.

Boochani’s lawyer Ben Lomai told AFP he would appeal the decision.

Boochani, speaking on behalf of the refugees in the camp, said the court ruling showed “how we are forgotten people and there is no justice for us”.

“We are used to the court decisions going against us”, he told AFP.

He added that depriving refugees of basic services was “completely against humanity”.

Australia’s harsh immigration policy against boatpeople, which Canberra says is necessary to stop deaths at sea, has been widely criticised by the United Nations and human rights advocates.

Asylum-seekers are sent to Manus and Nauru, but the camps’ conditions have been slammed by human rights groups, which have also campaigned to have them shut amid reports of widespread abuse, self-harm and mental health problems.

Amnesty International said Tuesday the court decision “jeopardises lives”.

“The decision is an abhorrent attack on the right to life,” the group’s Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze said in a statement.

“If authorities don’t act immediately, there is a real risk that the situation will catastrophically deteriorate.”

There were rallies in several cities over the weekend against the detention of the refugees, with protesters calling for them to be brought to Australia instead.

Canberra has strongly rejected calls to move the refugees to Australia and instead has tried to resettle them in third countries, including the United States.

But so far just 54 refugees have been accepted by Washington, with 24 flown to the US in September, under a deal struck with former US president Barack Obama and bitterly criticised by his successor Donald Trump.

© 2017 AFP

Australian PM to force lawmakers to declare citizenship to end political crisis

November 6, 2017

Reuters Staff

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced plans on Monday to force all lawmakers to declare they are not dual nationals as he seeks to defuse a political crisis that saw his deputy ejected from parliament.

Turnbull’s center-right coalition government was thrown into disarray last month when the High Court ruled that five lawmakers who were dual nationals, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, were ineligible for parliament.

 Image result for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, photos

The Australian leader has been facing down calls since for a full audit of parliamentarians to ensure they comply with the country’s constitution, which bars foreign nationals from sitting in parliament to prevent split allegiances.

The High Court ruling expelled three members of the Liberal-National coalition government from parliament, while a fourth resigned days later after confirming he also had dual nationality. The other affected lawmakers were from minority parties, with the main opposition Labor Party yet to be ensnared.

Turnbull said his plan, unlike an audit, would put the onus on lawmakers to check their own situation and anybody found to have made a false declaration would be in contempt of parliament. Lawmakers will be required to produce documents to prove any second citizenship has been renounced.

“Members and senators have been put squarely on notice now and so they will be turning their mind to their own affairs and the issues of citizenship,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

The new laws would apply to both existing and prospective lawmakers. Those already in parliament would be given 21 days to make a declaration from the date it comes into force, while new lawmakers would have the same period of time from their swearing in.

Turnbull said he hoped to push the changes through parliament in the last remaining sitting days this year. That will require support from the Labor Party, which suggested a similar plan last week.

Turnbull has said previously that the court’s interpretation of the constitution was “very strict”. He has flagged potential changes to the constitution, noting that more than half of Australia’s population of 24 million was either born overseas or has a parent who was born overseas. A referendum would be needed to change the constitution.

All seven lawmakers in the High Court case, two of whom were cleared to remain in parliament, accepted that they were dual nationals at the time of their election but claimed they were unaware of their status. Some were conferred a second nationality by birth, others by descent.

Reporting by Jane Wardell and Colin Packham; Editing by Nick Macfie

****************************************

Kevin Andrews warns PM Malcolm Turnbull about ‘inadequate leadership’

By Judith Ireland and  Adam Gartrell

Government backbencher Kevin Andrews has made a thinly veiled swipe at Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership, saying he thinks voters are unhappy about “inadequate leadership” in Canberra.

Mr Andrews, an outspoken ally of former prime minister Tony Abbott, said while he was not advocating for a change of leader, Australians wanted “clear, decisive, stable leadership”.

When asked if he had confidence in Mr Turnbull, Mr Andrews told Sky News: “There is a deep frustration in the community about what people see as inadequate leadership at the present time”.

The Victorian MP directly linked this frustration to the uncertainty about MPs’ citizenship that has engulfed Parliament in recent months.

Mr Andrews, a former Howard and Abbott minister, pointedly said that former prime ministers such as Bob Hawke and John Howard had even temperaments, listened to voters and colleagues and were able to argue a case.

This follows comments from Mr Andrews earlier in the week, in which he described Mr Turnbull as leader “at the moment”.

Also on Sunday, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann dismissed suggestions Mr Turnbull could be replaced by deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop.

“Yes, of course I’m confident that Malcolm Turnbull will lead us to the next election, he’s providing very strong, effective leadership to our team,” he told Sky News

“Beyond that, I’m not going to get myself involved in gossip.”

The Coalition has long been suffering in opinion polls under Mr Turnbull. According to the most recent Newspoll, released last Monday, the Coalition trails Labor, 46 to 54 per cent. This was 22nd Newspoll in a row that had the government in an election-losing position.

Citizenship questions: ‘Unsustainable to do nothing’

Since he was demoted from cabinet by Mr Turnbull in 2015, Mr Andrews has been an outspoken member of the backbench. Recently this has included breaking ranks on a proposed audit of MPs’ citizenship, which the Coalition has been resisting.

On Sunday, Mr Andrews renewed his calls for action, saying the government was not able to get any clear air because of continued questions about MPs’ citizenship status.

“It’s unsustainable to do nothing,” Mr Andrews said. “The issue is out there and running and it’s not going to go away until its resolved.”

Mr Andrews’ comments came as another Turnbull government MP – junior minister Alex Hawke – faced questions about his citizenship status after it was noted his mother was born in Greece.

The assistant immigration minister has rejected claims he could be a dual citizen by descent, saying he was born in Wollongong and has never “held or acquired or sought Greek or any other citizenship”.

“I am an Australian citizen only,” he told News Corp.

A person acquires Greek citizenship at birth “if said person is born to a parent of Greek nationality” – and it is not required to be activated. But Greek citizens do need to be officially registered.

Cabinet minister Kelly O’Dwyer said Mr Hawke had made his status clear and people needed to take a “deep breath”.

“We have rule of law in this country. We don’t have a reverse onus of proof here where you’re guilty until proven innocent,” she told the ABC.

“If someone believes that there is a member of parliament or a Senator who is not in compliance with their obligations under the constitution, they can move a motion in the House of Representatives or in the Senate to refer them to the High Court.

“So no witch-hunt, no Salem witch trial, will actually take away from the fact that the High Court is the only arbiter on this question.”

Greens leader Richard Di Natale reiterated his party’s call for a “full, frank and transparent audit”.

“We don’t know if the government has the numbers in the Parliament to govern,” he told the ABC. “We don’t know if decisions being made by ministers are valid decisions.”

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/kevin-andrews-warns-pm-malcolm-turnbull-about-inadequate-leadership-20171104-gzf0fl.html

Australia snubs New Zealand offer to take refugees amid protests — MP calls the Immigration Minister a “terrorist”

November 5, 2017

AFP

© AFP | The conservative Australian premier Malcolm Turnbull turned down Wellington’s offer to resettle refugees as he met his centre-left New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern for the first time Sunday in Sydney

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia Sunday snubbed New Zealand’s renewed offer to resettle 150 refugees held at remote Pacific camps, despite the closure of one detention centre in Papua New Guinea which has triggered a stand-off between detainees and the authorities.Canberra has been forced on the defensive by the move from Wellington’s new government, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying Australia would instead prioritise a similar deal with the US to resettle refugees in America, despite slow progress.

The issue re-emerged when the conservative Australian prime minister met his centre-left New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern for the first time Sunday in Sydney.

Pressure to resettle refugees increased after the Australian centre on PNG’s Manus Island was shut Tuesday after the nation’s Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

About 600 detainees are refusing to leave citing safety fears if they move to transition centres where locals are reportedly hostile.

ADVERTISING

But conditions in the camp are deteriorating with limited food and water and electricity cut off, with the United Nations warning of a humanitarian emergency.

Under its tough immigration policy, Canberra sends asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to two camps, in Manus and Nauru, and they are barred from resettling in Australia.

Australia has struggled to move the refugees to third countries such as Cambodia or PNG.

“The offer is very genuine and remains on the table,” Ardern told reporters after meeting Turnbull.

But the Australian leader replied that while he appreciated the offer — first made by Wellington in 2013 — “we are not taking it up at this time”.

“We have an arrangement with the United States… so we want to pursue those, conclude those arrangements and then in the wake of that, obviously we can consider other ones,” he said at the joint press conference.

“So the priority now is the US arrangement.”

Under the American deal — struck with previous US president Barack Obama and bitterly criticised by his successor Donald Trump — just 54 refugees have been accepted with 24 flown to the US.

The agreement had envisaged resettling up to 1,250 refugees from Manus and Nauru to America, but the vetting process has been slow.

Turnbull said his government had successfully stopped the arrival of asylum seeker boats and cited fears the people-smuggling trade could be restarted.

“Many of those people smugglers were trying to get people to New Zealand,” he added.

However, Australia has come under fire from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, with a spokesman in Geneva Friday calling on Canberra to move the men from Manus to Australia and criticising the offshore asylum processing policy as “unsustainable, inhumane and contrary to its human rights obligations”.

“We urge the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea to fully respect their human rights… and to enter into a dialogue with the men to ensure these rights are duly respected, protected and fulfilled,” the spokesman added.

Despite widespread criticism, Canberra has defending its policy as stopping deaths at sea after a spate of drownings.

Related:

**********************************************

.

Manus Island detention: Adam Bandt calls Immigration Minister Peter Dutton ‘a terrorist’

Peter Dutton has hit back at Federal Greens MP Adam Bandt who labelled the Immigration Minister a “terrorist” at a rally in Melbourne protesting against the treatment of men who remain on Manus Island.

More than 1,000 people gathered at the State Library before staging a mass sit-in at Federation Square to show their support for 600 refugees and asylum seekers who remain at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, despite its official closure on Tuesday.

Trams and traffic were brought to a standstill, while access to the train station was disrupted. Hundreds also gathered at a similar rally in Sydney.

The men on Manus Island say they do not feel safe in the replacement accommodation provided for them in the community.

Mr Bandt told the crowd the men had been “thrown in prison” by the Australian Government.

“These people have committed no crime other than to do what every single one of us would do if we thought our lives, or our family’s lives, were at risk,” he said.

Mr Bandt likened the Immigration Minister to a “terrorist” for “threatening people’s lives”.

“If the definition of terror is to use violence and threaten people’s lives for political purposes, then Peter Dutton is a terrorist,” he said.

“To look at the face of Peter Dutton is to stare into the eyes of someone who is prepared to kill people for political gain, and it’s time he was held to account for this crime against humanity.”

He also criticised Labor for reopening the offshore processing centre while in government, and urged them to join the Greens in their push to bring the men to Australia.

Mr Dutton said the Government stood by its record on preventing asylum seekers dying at sea, and dismissed the “terrorist” remark.

“I think that says more about Mr Bandt and the Greens than it does about me. The Australian Government has stopped deaths at sea. We’ve got every child out of detention,” he said.

“Mr Bandt, when he was in Government with [former Prime Minister] Julia Gillard, presided over 50,000 people coming on 800 boats and 1,200 people drowned at sea.

“I’ve not had a single person drown at sea on my watch.”

The minister told the ABC in Perth it was “disappointing” that the Greens “seem to be spoiling for some sort of fight” over the Manus Island issue.

Up to 20 protesters waited at the entrance of Crown Casino in Perth, where Mr Dutton addressed the Asia-Pacific Regional Conference between Germany and Australia.

‘The Government’s position is absolutely clear’

The UN on Friday said the Federal Government should provide immediate protection, food, water and other basic services to men, calling in an “unfolding humanitarian crisis”.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said there were serious concerns about the safety and wellbeing of the men, and both Australia and PNG were responsible under international human rights law to protect them.

People protesting Manus Island standoff sit down at Federation Square. CBD shut down with thousands here. @abcnewsMelb

In response to the UN’s statement, Mr Dutton’s said there would be no change in the Government’s policy and asked “that people be fully informed of the facts in relation to these matters”.

“The Government’s position is absolutely clear, it’s meant we’ve been able to stop boats and we’ve been able to stop deaths at sea,” he told reporters in Perth.

“If we allow people who’ve sought to come to our country by boat, to come to Australia to reside permanently then that will mean that people smugglers are back in business.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has urged the Federal Government to consider New Zealand’s offer to help resettle 150 of the men, said the UN “had a point”.

“We don’t want to see the people smugglers back in business, but I think there is something going on at Manus which is deeply disturbing to the Australian people,” he said.

“Where you have got 600 people without food and water for days, the Government needs to take an active interest in their welfare.”

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinean soldiers have been instructed not to allow anyone to bring food to the refugees inside the detention centre.

Food, power and water supplies to the centre were cut when the site was officially closed.

A soldier at the gate to the Lombrum naval base, in which the centre is located, says a church group with food for the refugees was turned away on Thursday.

On Friday, soldiers prevented a locals from landing a boat carrying food near the centre.

The 600 men inside say conditions are worsening but they remain determined to stay.

Topics: government-and-politicscommunity-and-societyrefugeesimmigrationmelbourne-3000vicsydney-2000,papua-new-guinea

.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-04/adam-bandt-calls-immigration-minister-peter-dutton-a-terrorist/9118662

.

AUSTRALIA-REFUGEES/

A refugee advocate holds a placard as she participates in a protest in central Sydney, against the treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres located in Nauru and on Manus Island, on Oct. 15. (David Gray/Reuters)

Australians protest against unfolding ’emergency’ in offshore detention camp

November 4, 2017

Image may contain: 8 people, crowd and outdoor

Refugee advocates hold placards and banners during a protest rally in central Melbourne, Australia, November 4, 2017. AAP/Mal Fairclough/via REUTERS Reuters

By Benjamin Cooper
Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) – More than 1,000 people protested in Australia on Saturday against the treatment of hundreds of asylum seekers in an offshore detention center that the United Nations has described as an “unfolding humanitarian emergency”.

About 600 men have barricaded themselves inside the camp on remote Manus island in Papua New Guinea, defying efforts by Australia and PNG to shut it. Food, running water and medical services were cut off by Australia four days ago.

Australian authorities want the men moved to a transit center elsewhere on the island at the start of a process the asylum seekers fear will result in them being resettled in PNG or another developing nation.

The men also fear violent reprisals from the local community.

“These people have committed no crime other than to do what every single one of us would do if we thought our lives, or our family’s lives, were at risk,” Federal Greens lawmaker Adam Bandt told the crowd in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

Another smaller protest was staged in Sydney.

The Manus island center, and one on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, have been key parts of Australia’s disputed “Sovereign Borders” immigration policy, under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores.

Australia’s offshore detention policies have been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups but are backed the center-right government and the Labor opposition.

U.N. rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva on Friday about the “unfolding humanitarian emergency” in the Manus island center, where asylum seekers have been reported digging wells to try to find water.

The Australian government has not responded to Colville’s comments. It frequently does not comment on issues concerning the offshore centers, citing operational reasons.

The relocation of the men is designed as a temporary measure, allowing the United States time to complete vetting of asylum seekers as part of a refugee swap deal, agreed on last year, under which Australia will accept refugees from Central America.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees from the camps on Manus and Nauru.

(Reporting by Benjamin Cooper; Editing by Paul Tait)

Australians protest against unfolding ’emergency’ in offshore detention camp

November 4, 2017

By Ben Cooper
Reuters

Asylum seekers protest possible closure of the detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

Asylum seekers protest possible closure of the detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. (Australia Broadcasting Company via Associated Press)

SYDNEY (Reuters) – More than 1,000 people protested in Australia on Saturday against the treatment of hundreds of asylum seekers in an offshore detention center that the United Nations has described as an “unfolding humanitarian emergency”.

About 600 men have barricaded themselves inside the camp on remote Manus island in Papua New Guinea, defying efforts by Australia and PNG to shut it. Food, running water and medical services were cut off by Australia four days ago.

Australian authorities want the men moved to a transit center elsewhere on the island at the start of a process the asylum seekers fear will result in them being resettled in PNG or another developing nation.

The men also fear violent reprisals from the local community.

The Manus island center, and one on the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, have been key parts of Australia’s disputed “Sovereign Borders” immigration policy, under which it refuses to allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach its shores.

Australia’s offshore detention policies have been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups but are backed the center-right government and the Labor opposition.

“These people have committed no crime other than to do what every single one of us would do if we thought our lives, or our family’s lives, were at risk,” Federal Greens lawmaker Adam Bandt told the crowd in Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city.

Another smaller protest was staged in Sydney.

U.N. rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva on Friday about the “unfolding humanitarian emergency” in the Manus island center, where asylum seekers have been reported digging wells to try to find water.

The Australian government has not responded to Colville’s comments. It frequently does not comment on issues concerning the offshore centers, citing operational reasons.

The relocation of the men is designed as a temporary measure, allowing the United States time to complete vetting of asylum seekers as part of a refugee swap deal, agreed on last year, under which Australia will accept refugees from Central America.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to consider New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees from the camps on Manus and Nauru.

Reporting by Benjamin Cooper; Editing by Paul Tait

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-asylum/australians-protest-against-unfolding-emergency-in-offshore-detention-camp-idUSKBN1D407X

Related:

AUSTRALIA-REFUGEES/

A refugee advocate holds a placard as she participates in a protest in central Sydney, against the treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres located in Nauru and on Manus Island, on Oct. 15. (David Gray/Reuters)

Pleas for New Zealand, Papua New Guinea to intervene in Manus Island refugees and asylum seekers crisis

November 3, 2017
By Michael Koziol and Fergus Hunter

Lawyers are hopeful Papua New Guinea may dramatically intervene in the desperate situation on Manus Island by reopening the abandoned detention centre or striking a resettlement deal with New Zealand.

About 600 refugees and asylum seekers have spent two nights in darkness at the decommissioned Australian-run refugee processing centre, sustaining themselves on stockpiled food and water, since official personnel left on Tuesday.

An injunction application was before PNG’s Supreme Court chief justice on Wednesday evening that would effectively force PNG to reopen the facility and provide food, water and electricity.

Ben Lomai, acting for Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani, said he had reason to believe PNG’s government might “agree to the order”, but there had not yet been official talks.

He also said the election of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was “a window of opportunity for the PNG government to deal directly with New Zealand”.

Australian barrister Greg Barns, who is working with Mr Lomai, pointed to acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop’s remarks on Wednesday that “PNG is a sovereign government”.

“If PNG is a sovereign country, cut a deal with New Zealand,” he urged.

The Australian government argues that while the Manus Island men are PNG’s responsibility it should not deal with NZ because that would open a backdoor path to Australia.

Ms Bishop’s office referred questions to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, whose office did not respond.

PNG Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas issued a stern statement this week declaring his country had discharged its responsibilities and Australia should find third-country resettlement options for the refugees.

But the lawyers believe PNG may be forced to intervene to prevent a “bloodbath” on Manus Island and defuse growing tensions among Manusians, who do not want the refugees living with them.

Local police chief David Yapu described the atmosphere as “calm” on Wednesday, but refugees retained fears of an imminent confrontation with the PNG navy or locals.

Meanwhile, one man self-harmed with a razor and another experienced illness associated with epilepsy, Mr Boochani said.

Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale, a medical doctor, expressed grave fears for the many men unable to receive their anti-depressants or psychotropics while they remain at the abandoned facility.

“These are people who will become acutely suicidal, who will become anxious, many of them will experience a range of other side effects,” he said.

The lack of working toilets was one of the most immediate problems faced by the 600 men at the compound, according to Senator Di Natale’s colleague Nick McKim, who is on Manus Island.

Ms Bishop told the ABC it made “no sense” for the refugees to refuse to leave the decommissioned processing centre, noting the closure had been expected since April.

She said alternative accommodation was available in nearby Lorengau equipped with food, water, power and medical services.

Asked several times if the Australian government could guarantee the refugees’ safety in Lorengau, Ms Bishop said PNG was responsible for law, order and security.

On Wednesday Nat Jit Lam, a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said one of the alternative facilities earmarked for the refugees was not yet fit for human habitation.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pleas-for-new-zealand-papua-new-guinea-to-intervene-in-manus-island-crisis-20171101-gzcw2u.html

France Seeks Funding at UN Monday For African Sahel Anti-Terror Military Force

October 30, 2017

AFP

.

© Pascal Guyot, AFP | Malian soldiers patrol with French soldiers involved in the regional anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane in March 2016 in Timbamogoye.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-10-30

France is facing a tough diplomatic battle to convince the United States to lend UN support to a counter-terrorism force for Africa’s Sahel region, where insurgents have killed UN peacekeepers and US soldiers.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will lead a UN Security Council meeting on Monday that will look at ways of shoring up the G5 Sahel force set up by Burkina FasoChadMaliMauritania and Niger.

France wants donors to step up, but is also looking to the United Nations to offer logistic and financial support to the joint force — which is set to begin operations in the coming days.

The United States however is adamant that while it is ready to provide bilateral funding, there should be no UN support for the force.

“The US is committed to supporting the African-led and owned G5 Joint Force through bilateral security assistance, but we do not support UN funding, logistics, or authorization for the force,” said a spokesperson for the US mission.

“Our position on further UN involvement with respect to the G5 Sahel joint force is unchanged.”

The vast Sahel region has turned into a hotbed of violent extremism and lawlessness since chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, the Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and the rise of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria.

>> Video: Meet the French troops hunting jihadists in Sahel

Earlier this month, militants linked to the Islamic State ambushed and killed four US soldiers on a reconnaissance patrol with Nigerien soldiers near the Niger-Mali border.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali has lost 17 peacekeepers in attacks this year, one of the highest tolls from current peace operations.

Four options

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has come out in favor of multilateral backing, writing in a recent report that the establishment of the G5 force “represents an opportunity that cannot be missed.”

Guterres has laid out four options for UN support, from setting up a UN office for the Sahel to sharing resources from the large UN mission in Mali.

In response, US Ambassador Nikki Haley wrote to Guterres this month to reaffirm the US “no” to UN involvement, officials said. The United States is the UN’s biggest financial contributor.

ANALYSIS: FRANCE’S MACRON IN MALI TO BOOST REGIONAL ANTI-TERRORISM FORCE

The battle over UN backing for the Sahel force is shaping up as Haley is pushing for cost-saving measures after successfully negotiating a $600-million cut to the peacekeeping budget this year.

After leading a Security Council visit to the Sahel last week, French Ambassador Francois Delattre said most countries on the council want the United Nations to help.

“The key question now is not about the relevance of the G5 Sahel force, nor the need to support it, but it is about the best way to convey this support,” said Delattre.

A “mix of both multilateral and bilateral support” is needed, he said.

A long list of gaps

The price tag for the G5 force’s first year of operations is estimated at 423 million euros ($491 million), even though French officials say the budget can be brought down closer to 250 million euros.

So far, only 108 million euros have been raised, including 50 million euros from the five countries themselves. A donor conference will be held in Brussels on December 16.

“UN logistical support could make a big difference,” said Paul Williams, an expert on peacekeeping at George Washington University.

“To become fully operational, the force needs to fill a long list of logistical and equipment gaps,” he said — from funding for its headquarters to intelligence-sharing and medical evacuation capacities.

Williams said US reservations were not just about cost, but also about the mission’s operations, which Washington sees as ill-defined.

The G5 is “a relatively blunt military instrument for tackling the security challenges in this region, which stem from a combination of bad governance, underdevelopment and environmental change,” he explained.

“At best it might limit the damage done by some of the criminal networks and insurgents, but even then, its gains will not be sustainable without adequate funding.”

(AFP)

Related:

.

France, U.N. Want Sahel Army To Fight Terrorism But U.S. Not Eager To Pay

October 30, 2017

Plan for 5-nation force in the Sahel strongly backed by France and Italy but funding resisted by Trump administration

Malian and French soldiers patrol during anti-insurgent operations in Tin Hama, Mali, 19 October.
 Malian and French soldiers patrol during anti-insurgent operations in Tin Hama, Mali, 19 October. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Unprecedented plans to combat human trafficking and terrorism across the Sahel and into Libya will face a major credibility test on Monday when the UN decides whether to back a new proposed five-nation joint security force across the region.

The 5,000-strong army costing $400m in the first year is designed to end growing insecurity, a driving force of migration, and combat endemic people-smuggling that has since 2014 seen 30,000 killed in the Sahara and an estimated 10,000 drowned in the central Mediterranean.

No automatic alt text available.

The joint G5 force, due to be fully operational next spring and working across five Sahel states, has the strong backing of France and Italy, but is suffering a massive shortfall in funds, doubts about its mandate and claims that the Sahel region needs better coordinated development aid, and fewer security responses, to combat migration.

The Trump administration, opposed to multilateral initiatives, has so far refused to let the UN back the G5 Sahel force with cash. The force commanders claim they need €423m in its first year, but so far only €108m has been raised, almost half from the EU. The British say they support the force in principle, but have offered no funds as yet.

Western diplomats hope the US will provide substantial bilateral funding for the operation, even if they refuse to channel their contribution multilaterally through the UN.

France, with the support of the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and regional African leaders, has been pouring diplomatic resources into persuading a sceptical Trump administration that the UN should financially back the force.

In an attempt to persuade the Americans, Guterres warned in a report to the security council this month that the “region is now trapped in a vicious cycle in which poor political and security governance, combined with chronic poverty and the effects of climate change, has contributed to the spread of insecurity”.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/30/new-400m-army-to-fight-human-traffickers-and-terrorists-faces-un-moment-of-truth

Related:

.

Thousands march in Berlin against far-right AfD

October 22, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A protestor holds up a sign reading “Stop the AFD” during a demonstration in Berlin as representatives of the far-right Alternative for Germany party prepare to take their seats in German parliament next week.

BERLIN (AFP) – Thousands of demonstrators marched Sunday in Berlin, in protest against the far-right Alternative for Germany’s debut in parliament next week.

Bearing posters with slogans like “Stop AfD”, “My voice against incitement” or “My heart beats for diversity”, the demonstrators rallied two days before AfD lawmakers will join other MPs at the first sitting of Germany’s newly-elected parliament.

The Islamophobic and anti-migrant AfD garnered 12.6 percent of the vote in the watershed general election in September and became the country’s third biggest party.

Its arrival in the Bundestag is a political earthquake for post-war Germany, as the AfD’s top figures have repeatedly smashed taboos with their claims on German identity or by challenging Germany’s culture of atonement over World War II.

But the party proved appealing to voters angry with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s border policy, which allowed more than one million asylum seekers into the country since 2015.

Calling on people to join the protest on Sunday, the popular movement Campact urged Germans to “steal the show from the AfD”.

“When the AfD sits in the Bundestag for the first time on October 24, it needs to know that our parliament is not a stage for racism, discrimination and falsifying history!” said Campact.

Teacher Annette Saidler acknowledged at the protest that “it’s now too late” to stop the AfD from entering parliament.

“We can’t do anything other than demonstrate, to say that there are still many people who did not vote for the AfD.”

Another protester, 25-year-old university student Bastian Schmidt said he was at the demonstration to “call on parliamentary parties to protest in parliament against the AfD”.

“But above all, the people who are here, wherever they are in their daily lives — in schools, universities or companies — must fight against racism,” said Schmidt, who turned up with a group of like-minded schoolmates.

Related:

© dpa/AFP/File / by Isabelle LE PAGE | The centre-right German Chancellor Angela Merkel is faced with a surge of support for far-right protest party AfD