Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz
Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk
The Australian government will be offering money to refugees on Manus Island who agree to return to their home countries as it rushes to shut down the detention centre in Papua New Guinea, reports the PNG Post-Courier.
While most of the refugees have refused to stay in Papua New Guinea, Australia has promised to give each refugee $25,000 if they agree to return to their country of origin.
Last year, PNG’s Supreme Court reflected global protests when it ruled the detention centre breached human rights and ordered its closure.
Many praised the closure as a good thing. However, the United Nations has slammed the “deteriorating conditions” inside the facility as utilities are cut off.
The plight of the Rohingya refugees has been well-documented in the media in recent times.
They are an ethnic group from the southern state of Rakhine in Myanmar, but since 1982 the government has denied them citizenship.
It is estimated almost one million of them have fled their home country since the government began routine crackdowns in the 1970s.
Approximately 370,000 have fled in the last few weeks alone.
Asylum seeker dies
The ABC’s Papua New Guinea correspondent, Eric Tlozek, reports police on Manus Island have confirmed an asylum seeker has died overnight.
A 32-year-old Sri Lankan Tamil man was found near the kitchen of the Lorengau Hospital after reports he was mentally unwell, Tlozek reports.
Friends of the man said it appeared he took his own life and Australian authorities have confirmed the death.
“The department is aware of the death at Lorengau Hospital,” a spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said.