‘We are now hostages’: Protestors’ blockade of refugee centre enters its second day

Related Story: Manus Island protesters block access to refugee accommodationRelated Story: Manus staff forced to leave island after protesters block centre access

Refugees on Manus Island say they are running out of food because local landowners are blockading their accommodation.

Protesting landowners have been stopping staff, medicine and food deliveries from going in to the East Lorengau Transit Centre, where more than 300 men are kept, since December 19.

Sri Lankan refugee Thanus Selvarasa said they are also preventing the men inside from leaving.

"These local people attack us, the camp (and) we are hostage people now," he said.

"They don't provide food and medicine."

External Link: Very serious problem in Manus, Some powerful ppl in island are competing & using us as tools for their aims. Nobody here to guarantee our safety. Anything bad happens to us, those who took us here by force are responsible. We resisted because situation outside predictable.#Manus

Mr Selvarasa said the blockade prevented a scheduled food delivery from arriving.

"We have some rice only but today it's mostly finished," he said.

"If they don't provide, we don't have."

Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani is inside the centre and says the Australian Border Force "must find a solution" to the situation.

"Anything bad happens to us, those who took us here by force are responsible," he tweeted.

The landowners first protested outside the centre on November 29.

External Link: Landowners still blocking the road. They won’t allow IHMS and JDA staff to come in. We are now hostages of landowners. There is no food and medicine here and if they continue it will be a critical situation. ABF should find a solution urgently.#Manus

Their threats against case management staff forced contractor JDA Wokman to evacuate its personnel from Manus Island.

Now landowners are reportedly demanding compensation from the Australian and PNG governments.

Although the protest is about an Australian Government contract, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs refused to comment, saying only: "This is a matter for the Government of PNG."

The ABC has also sought comment from the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority and PNG Police.

Staff discuss the ongoing standoff at the gates of the refugee centre.


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