An independent panel began its review of religious freedoms in Australia on 10 January 2018, and are accepting submissions from the public. This article includes further information about the review and a recent meeting of SA Christian leaders.
Do not walk away from Manus refugees, says UCA President
By Uniting Church in Australia Assembly
Posted in News
Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan has called on the Australian Government to ensure the safety of refugees on Manus Island upon the closure of the main detention facility on Tuesday 31 October.
Around 600 refugees have refused to leave because they fear their safety outside of the Regional Processing Centre.
“Australia cannot walk away from its responsibility to guarantee the safety of these men who have already suffered so much uncertainty and fear,” says Stuart.
Water and electricity will be turned off and food and medical services will no longer be provided as the centre is shut down today.
The Australian Government plans to transfer the refugees to other accommodation closer to the island's main town of Lorengau.
However, the refugees are refusing to leave with some of the men repairing wire security fences to the compound to protect themselves inside the centre.
The UNHCR, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has also expressed its concerns about the lack of planning in the closure of the facilities and insufficient consultation with the Papua New Guinean community.
There remains no long-term solution for the refugees on Manus Island who are not included in the relocation arrangement with the United States of America.
“It is clear the refugees inside the Manus Island processing centre hold grave fears for their safety and security in the other locations,” Stuart says.
“The Government must take immediate steps to ensure the refugees remain safe and continue to have access to water, food and critical medical and mental health services.”
The Uniting Church has long advocated for refugees to be processed fairly, on-shore in Australia, and for an increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake.
“We pray for the safety of these men as the centre is shut down today and all refugees who continue to be deprived of hope.”
Photo and article courtesy of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly.
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Led by former Liberal frontbencher Philip Ruddock, an independent panel will meet on 10 January to begin its review of whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to religious freedom.
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