‘We are in constant fear’: Manus Island detainees appeal to New Zealand PM for asylum

Asylum seekers on Manus Island have penned a letter to New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Bill English, urging him to resettle them.

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New Zealand has previously offered to take in refugees from the Australian-run immigration detention centres, and the letter asks Mr English to again broach the issue with Australia.

“We humbly request that you revisit your offer to take asylum seekers from offshore camps and take us to New Zealand. We are confident that if you properly assess our claims for asylum you will find that we are genuine refugees,” the letter reads.

“We promise to commit ourselves to helping build New Zealand and will work towards making it one of the best countries in the world. We sincerely request that you allow us to come to New Zealand.”

In the letter, the asylum seekers say they don’t feel safe in Papua New Guinea are in “constant fear” of their lives.

“We are routinely attacked and robbed when we go into Lorengau town. We are not welcome in this country and have no place in it.”

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They also mention the death of Reza Barati at the Manus Island detention centre in February 2014 – which left them “traumatised”, as well as this year’s Good Friday incident where gun shots were fired into the centre.

“Luckily none of us was killed but many people were nearly hit by bullets coming through the walls into their rooms … We are not protected by the Australian government who brought us here or the PNG government who have been given responsibility for our welfare.

“After the attack in 2014 many of us lost confidence in the refugee assessment process and did not continue with it.”

In April 2016, PNG’s Supreme Court ruled the detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island as illegal, with asylum seekers notified they will be asked to leave the centre in the coming months.

“On 15 May 2017 we were told that the Manus Island camp is to close and that those without refugee status would be returned to their home countries, abandoned in PNG or moved ‘to a third country where you have a right to reside’.”

While United States officials have been on Manus Island assessing refugees as part of a deal brokered between Australia and the US.

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