Papua New Guinea police start removing refugees from Australia camp

Above, police enter the immigration camp on Manus Island on Thursday, November 23. Papua New Guinea authorities on Thursday ratcheted up pressure on more than 300 asylum seekers to abandon a decommissioned immigration camp. (Refugee Action Coalition via AP)
Updated 23 November 2017
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Papua New Guinea police start removing refugees from Australia camp

SYDNEY: Papua New Guinea police raided a shuttered Australian detention camp Thursday, removing dozens of refugees in an effort to end a stand-off that has drawn global attention to Canberra’s tough asylum-seeker policies.
Hundreds of men sent to the remote camp on PNG’s Manus Island have refused to leave the site for new, PNG-run centers since Australia closed it on October 31.
Over the past three weeks only around 200 out of approximately 600 men held in Manus have agreed to leave voluntarily for three nearby transition centers, with the others insisting they should be resettled in third countries.
On Thursday, police moved in and took 50 men to alternative camps, PNG Police Commissioner Gari Baki said.
“We are doing the best we can and the refugees cannot continue to be stubborn and defiant,” Baki said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“The fact is that we are not moving them into the jungle. They are being relocated to two centers where there is water, electricity, food and medical services.”
Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton indicated the police operation would continue, saying “there is a lot of work that is ongoing.”
“A number of people... have been moved and we would expect the number, which up until this morning had been about 370 people within that center, would drop obviously well below that now,” he told Sky News.
He added that a “small number” of men were arrested during Thursday’s action, including Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani, who has been acting as a spokesman for the detainees.
Boochani was later released. Police commissioner Baki said he was neither arrested nor charged but moved to one of the transition centers.
Detainees had earlier tweeted and posted photos and videos on social media of PNG authorities sweeping through the camp, saying police had pulled belongings from rooms and shouted at them to get into buses.
Boochani tweeted that police had destroyed their shelters and water tanks, and said the refugees were on “high alert” and “under attack.”
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reaffirmed his government’s stance Thursday that none of the refugees, who were sent to the camp for trying to reach Australia by boat, would be brought to his country.
The men are barred from resettling in Australia, and Turnbull said their actions were meant to push Canberra into changing its mind.
“They think this is some way they can pressure the Australian government to let them come to Australia. Well, we will not be pressured,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“The people on Manus should go to the alternative places of safety with all of the facilities they need.”
Global rights group Amnesty International said Thursday there were “risks of serious injury if the authorities use force,” and called for the refugees to be brought to Australia.
The government has tried to resettle the refugees in third countries, including the United States, with little success.
Just 54 refugees have been accepted by Washington, with 24 flown to America in September.
Despite widespread criticism, Canberra has defended its offshore processing policy as stopping deaths at sea after a spate of drownings.
The camps’ conditions have been slammed by the United Nations and human rights groups amid reports of widespread abuse, self-harm and mental health problems.
Amnesty said the refugees’ safety fears were also “well-founded,” adding that some had previously been “attacked and seriously injured” by locals “who have made clear they do not want the men on Manus.”
The Australian Medical Association has called on Canberra to allow doctors to help the refugees, warning there was a “worsening and more dangerous situation emerging on Manus.”


80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

Updated 1 min ago
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80 nations attend terror financing conference in Paris

  • Terror attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001
  • While the Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, experts warn that its ideology will live on

PARIS: Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gather in Paris from Wednesday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Daesh and Al-Qaeda, French officials said.
Attacks have become increasingly low-cost since the 9/11 atrocities in the United States in 2001, particularly in recent years when followers of Daesh have used vehicles and guns as their main weapon of choice.
But French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by Daesh between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria.
A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that Daesh income was estimated at about $1 billion (820 million euros) a year.
“It has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.”
The idea of the two-day conference, which will close with a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, is to share expertise and good practice that can be implemented internationally.
The Daesh group faces imminent defeat on the battlefield in Syria where the last pockets of its fighters are holding out, but experts warn that its ideology will live on.
Some terror experts, including Peter Neumann from King’s College in London, have argued recently that the fight against the financing of terror groups has been ineffective since 2001.
In a report last year entitled “Don’t follow the money,” he argued that low-cost terror attacks were easy to mount and jihadist groups could transfer money easily without using the international banking system.
He will make a speech at the start of the second day of the conference on Thursday which will take place at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris.