February 13, 2013
More photographs have been smuggled out of the remote Manus Island processing camp in Papua New Guinea, showing afresh the grim conditions endured by asylum seekers in the camp.
As a court challenge to the camp launched by the PNG opposition leader, Belden Namah, entered its second day on Wednesday, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young released 19 photos that she said had been sent to her office confidentially.
In one, a man holding a towel over his head struggles in driving rain through an ankle-deep stream running between rows of tents. There are lines of sandbags on the outside of the tents, in what appears to be a vain attempt to keep the water out.
In another, a man wearing shorts lies on an army stretcher to sleep, medical gauze patches visible up his arms and legs. Detainees have complained that due to the relentless humidity on the island, and damp inside the tents, insect bites heal very slowly and often ulcerate.
A photograph of the lavatory area shows piles of toilet paper and other rubbish spilling out of a plastic bag on the wet and muddy floor.
It’s understood the photographs were taken from the area of the camp designed to hold single adult men. Families are being held separately in patched-up and repaired dongas.
Two weeks ago, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported on conditions at the camp, describing them as ”harsh”.
”Asylum-seekers and service providers advised they found the hot and humid weather made the temporary accommodation very uncomfortable,” the report said.
”Due to recent heavy rain, some areas were extremely muddy and in some places there were large amounts of standing water.”
There are 34 children on Manus Island. Senator Hanson-Young said the photos showed the camp was no place for children.
”These images are proof that Australia must stop sending people, especially children, to the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru,” she said.
”Anyone can see that the conditions there are totally unacceptable for adults and it breaks my heart to know that children are being locked up there as well.”
The ABC reported on Tuesday that the court challenge brought by Mr Namah will resume on Wednesday afternoon.
Mr Namah’s lawyer, Loami Henao, reportedly said that he would seek an injunction against any more asylum seekers being sent to Manus Island until the case had been resolved.
The ABC also reported that judge David Canning said on Monday that he regarded the matter as a human rights issue and he would try to deal with it as soon as possible.