Politics

Manus refugees plea for help in letter to Trump, Ardern and Trudeau

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Refugees at the Manus Island detention centre have signed a letter pleading for help from world leaders.

More than 280 refugees on Manus Island have signed a letter directly pleading to US President Donald Trump, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking for their help, amid a stand-off at the defunct detention centre.

Around 600 of the men have barricaded themselves inside the centre, which officially closed on Tuesday, refusing to leave over concerns for their safety at a new accommodation facility provided for them.

Food, water and medication are running out at the centre.

A letter from Manus Island detainees to Donald Trump
A letter from Manus Island detainees to Donald Trump
Supplied/SBS World News

In the letter, the group accuse the Australian government of “crimes against humanity” after basic amenities were cut.

“We are refugees or asylum seekers and we are not criminals. Even criminals have the right to food and water. This type of torturing is new,” the letter reads.

“President Trump, our processing for the USA is [still] running. We want you to please notice some genuine refugees … detained in here. We have no other choices except for remaining in here. We also ask from Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Justin [Trudeau] to help us. Please help us as much you can. We are in [a] critical condition right now.”

The letter coincided with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's meeting with Ms Ardern in Sydney on Sunday, in which he declined New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 of the men stranded on the Island.

Mr Turnbull and did not rule out the offer entirely but said the focus would first be on the US refugee resettlement deal. 

Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court heard an application on behalf of the men inside the centre to restore basic services on Monday. 

A decision on the case is expected on Tuesday.

Lawyers for Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who is an appellant in the case, allege a breach of constitutional rights over the removal of services. 

Mr Boochani said several of the detainees have contracted infections.

"The health and hygiene situation continues to deteriorate," he said.

"People are deprived of access to sufficient food and are relying on rainwater. We have received a little food in the past few days and we rationed it only to survive."

He said the Navy and police had been ordered to stop boats with supplied coming to the centre.

"Today the Navy positioned personnel close to the beach to prevent any boats getting through. We have been surrounded by Navy personnel determined to stop boats coming too close.

"We committed no crime and are too tired to be in prison any more."

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