A disputed refugee and asylum detention centre on the Australian Manus island is closing in about a week’s time. The Australian government, because it has lost a ruling brought against it by a non-profit organisation, will now have to spend 200 million $ to resettle the unwanted citizens elsewhere for the next 12 months till they can be processed, aka till a solution can be found.
Their plan was to ship some of them off to the US as part of the 1,250 refugees the Obama administration had accepted to take in, but because of the Trump travel ban and the unwillingness of his administration to cooperate in this matter, this is no longer possible.
A document posted at the detention centre and headed “Manus Island closes in 123 days”, reads: “The Manus RPC will close on 31 October 2017. Refugees should move to the ELRTC without delay. Accommodation at the ELRTC is safe and secure.”
The refugees, most of whom are from Papua New Guinea, will now have to be housed somewhere else under Australian law, forcing the Ministry responsible for immigration to spend up to 200 million $ to rent houses and book hotel rooms for them till a solution is found.
Australia is hoping to simply send the refugees back to Papua New Guinea as US President Trump has been very reluctant to take any of them on. The head of the immigration department, Mr Michael Pezzullo, said the contracts with private service providers were "designed" so they could be taken over by the Papua New Guinea government later on, but said there was currently no deal in place.
He appeared before a senate hearing so the Australian electorate could understand why 200 million $ of their tax money is now being spent: "It's actually quite a tight estimate given the variables that we deal with," Mr Pezzullo explained, “We are very mindful of costs and value for money.”
There have been several attacks on the detention centre whilst the non-profit organisation that sued the government claimed that some of the refugees had been tortured. Mr Pezzullo was clear on this topic though: "I reject any assertion that this department has been torturing anyone."