PNG police move in on Manus protesters to clear detention centre

The Papua New Guinea police force has confirmed they had started an operation to remove refugees and asylum seekers from the Manus Island detention centre site.

Ten days after utilities were cut off at the Manus Island detention centre, PNG police have confirmed they have started forcing refugees and asylum seekers to leave the location.

The PNG constabulary, immigration department and defence forces - in an operation dubbed 'Helpim Friends' - started their joint relocation strategy at 11am local time on Friday.

By Friday afternoon a PNG police spokesman said almost 60 refugees had voluntarily boarded buses and open-back trucks with their cargoes to their new locations.

Up to 600 refugees and asylum seekers barricaded themselves inside the detention centre complex – citing safety fears - in response to being told they had to relocate.

The men believe it is safer to remain in the compound than risk being attacked by locals at new facilities near the main township of Lorengau.

"Police and military personnel from the Naval Base at Lombrum are at the centre facilitating the smooth and orderly movement of refugees to their new location. Progress of the relocation is going well and smoothly," a police spokesman said.

Manus Provincial Police Commander Chief Inspector David Yapu said officers were instructed to conduct the relocation "without use of force".

Manus Island authorities have already issued a written warning to those still in the compound, saying force will be used to clear the centre.

'Living hell'

SBS was sent footage from refugees on Manus Island on Friday claiming to show navy officers draining water tanks, and police cutting down tents and removing personal belongings from the centre.

The footage comes after activist group Get Up! released secretly filmed video of the "living hell" the men inside were enduring.

The footage, filmed by the activists on Sunday night (November 5) shows blocked toilets and filthy bathroom facilities with no running water, and men sleeping outside on folding tables in sweltering conditions.

It shows the men have used wheelie bins to catch and store water and also dug wells in search of groundwater to use for drinking and cooking.

Speaking with SBS Punjabi earlier this week Ravinder Singh said the men on Manus had beentreated much worse than criminals, even though we haven't committed any crime”.

Mr Singh has been on Manus since he was forcibly removed from Christmas Island in 2014.

"Really, the conditions here are much worse than in a jail. It is fine if the Australian government doesn't want to resettle us in Australian - they can send us to New Zealand and Canada, who are willing to accept us. Enough is enough," he said.

Mr Singh said the conditions were hot and the men's food supply had been cut off after the centre had closed but it was safer than the alternative.

"We are being asked to move to the hillside, or to Loringo, but that's very dangerous for us. The local people have already threatened that if we are let out in the community, either they will do self-harm, or they will attack us," he said.

"We are very fearful of the locals. Earlier this year, one of the detainees went to the local shop and his arm was cut off by a sword."

The police spokesman said it was expected that all of the refugees and asylum seekers still inside the complex were to vacate on Friday.

The decision follows the closure of the Manus Island detention centre and the return of land to the PNG defence force.

Iranian refugee Behrouz Boochani said the use of force to remove the men was unacceptable.

GetUp! Footage shows living conditions of Manus refugees
GetUp! Footage shows living conditions of Manus refugees

"We are not doing anything wrong, we are only resisting peacefully," he told AAP.

"We are asking again for freedom in a safe third country."

UNHCR holds grave concerns

The United Nations Country Team, who are based in Port Moresby, said they held grave concerns for the welfare of the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus.

The UNHCR, who is monitoring the situation on the ground, claim the men who remain at the centre do not have sufficient food, water, electricity and security.

They also claim there are insufficient medical services and no interpreters available for those who cannot speak English.

The group have urged authorities to allow media and humanitarian organisations to access the new alternative accommodation – which the refugees and asylum seekers claim are unsafe and unready to live in.

Australia Refugees
The 600 men holed up at the Manus detention centre are still refusing to move to new facilities. (AAP)
ABC News

Marquee being dismantled inside the Manus Island detention centre
Marquee being dismantled inside the Manus Island detention centre
SBS Punjabi

Despite this, the prime minister insists the new facilities are fully-equipped and resourced.

"They need food, water, security, healthcare, they have all that spare," Mr Turnbull told reporters in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang where he is attending the APEC summit.

Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said Mr Turnbull should heed a report by the UN Human Rights Committee which raised concerns about the Manus shutdown "without adequate arrangements for long-term viable relocation solutions".

"The committee's report is a clear and definitive statement about steps the government needs to take to address the human rights concerns identified," Ms McLeod said in a statement on Friday.

- With AAP