Manus Island: the Guantanamo of the Pacific

Dubbed by some “the Guantanamo of the Pacific”, Manus Island is home to one of Australia’s off-shore detention centres, where around a thousand asylum seekers are locked up.

Australia does not allow journalists to visit the centres but the BBC’s Jon Donnison travelled undercover to Papua New Guinea to reach the camp on Manus island. 

He reported seeing “asylum seekers, their faces pressed against the fences, some of whom have been stuck in Manus for almost two years.” Watch Video

In 2013, under the Labor government of Kevin Rudd, Australia did a deal with PNG, agreeing to pay around AU$400m (US$300m; £200m) in aid if it agreed not only to house the detention centre but also to resettle refugees.

On Manus Island reaction to Australia’s policies is mixed.

Papua New Guinea is a poor country.

On the one hand the detention centre has provided hundreds of jobs for local people who work as security guards.

But in terms of the AU$400m of aid promised for Papua New Guinea as part of the deal, many local people say they’ve seen little of that money.

“It is like boomerang aid,” says Nahau Rooney, a community leader on Manus.

“They bring the money but Manus is getting maybe 1%, maybe 10%. But most of the major contracts are going to Australian companies.”


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

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