Manus Island detainees – depression, self-harm, suicide attempts

Manus Island detainees must be released. Mental illness among those incarcerated on the island are rife, says the bishops conference of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG, Giorgio Licini, has written to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill saying PNG leaders should negotiate a deadline with Australia to release refugees imprisoned on Manus Island.

The island is part of Manus Province in northern Papua New Guinea.

Licini says ending almost six years of indefinite detention for about 600 male refugees should be done on medical and humanitarian grounds.

Prolonging the refugees’ detention would compromise their chances of being resettled elsewhere, he says.

“I am now humbly asking you to give a very close deadline to the authorities in Canberra for the removal of all refugees from our country on the basis of strongly compelling medical and humanitarian reasons.

“Without this decision, the mentally impaired people will grow by the dozens in the next few weeks and months. Who is going to care for them? They risk outright rejection by any third country”, he wrote.

Licini also explained in his letter that uncertainty about the future had caused a breakdown in the refugees’ mental health, and depression and hopelessness had led to self-harm and suicide attempts becoming a daily occurrence.

He said during a recent two-day visit to the island, three refugees had attempted suicide.


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