Manus Island: Papua New Guinea police begin clear-out operation in former detention center

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Police presence

Papua New Guinea authorities entered the Manus Island detention center on Thursday morning to expel asylum seekers. Police Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas said 50 police and immigration officials entered the camp.

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Police: not a raid

"There's no raid. It's an ongoing negotiation with the refugees," Kakas told AP. "It's not an eviction exercise. We're telling them to move because there's water, food and proper shelter on the other side."

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Asylum seekers: food and water confiscated

Residents claim authorities attacked their makeshift supplies again. "They destroyed our food and damaged our accommodation too, they destroyed our water tank," one asylum seeker told Reuters.

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Deadline passed

Deadlines to abandon the camp earlier in November passed without authorities taking action. Food, water and power supplies ended when the Manus camp officially closed on October 31. Police then ramped up pressure by emptying water tanks and removing shelters.

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UN: humanitarian crisis

Advocacy group Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC) said more than 150 men at in the camp were seriously ill, lacking access to basic first aid or medicine. The United Nations had previously described the standoff as a "looming humanitarian crisis", calling on Australia to take immediate action to avert disaster.

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Violent history

The detention center has an ugly history of violence. Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati was killed — and another 69 asylum seekers injured — during a riot in 2014. Two locals, a guard and a Salvation army employee, were convicted of his murder.

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Protesters: Justice for refugees

Australia's hardline immigration policy has provoked criticism both at home and abroad. President Malcolm Turnbull suggested refugees in Manus were using the situation to gain asylum. "They think that ... in some way they can pressure the Australian government to let them come to Australia. Well, we will not be pressured. We will not outsource our migration policy to people smugglers."

Hundreds of asylum seekers refused to leave the Australian-run detention center that was shut down on 31 October, citing fears for their safety. Now police have come to clear them out.