In a statement the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia has endorsed the joint Catholic statement calling on the Australian government to bring the more than 600 men stranded on Manus Island to Australia, where they can be resettled or have their claims processed in safety and dignity.
The JRS state: 'By refusing to provide safe and sustainable relocation options in New Zealand and elsewhere, the Australian government appears to be deliberately leaving the men no option but to remain inside the 'Regional Processing Centre' in dire conditions or risk their safety in Lorengau.
"It is disheartening that Australia has again rejected New Zealand's offer to immediately resettle 150 refugees from Manus Island," says Carolina Gottardo, Director of JRS Australia.
"The government continues to put its political interests over the lives, dignity, and future of people who have already been subjected to persecution in their home countries. We urge the Australian government to reconsider its position in this regard," she says.
The men on Manus are relying on rain, groundwater, and meagre food rations to survive. Moreover, many of the men require urgent
medical and psychiatric treatment, which have not been available since the centre shut down almost a week ago.
The UNHCR reports that proposed alternative accommodation on the island is insufficient; that tensions within the local community are on the rise partly due to the lack of consultation about the movement of the refugees; and that local services will not be able to cope with the influx.
"They have suffered from the most appalling treatment for more than four years. They are at breaking point. And for no fault of their own except, it seems, that they are seeking Australia's protection," says Ms. Gottardo.
Ms Gottardo continues: "How can we even talk about saving lives at sea when we are destroying them in detention centres instead? It is our political and moral responsibility to treat these people with the dignity and respect they deserve and bring them to Australia now."
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