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Manusians living near detention centres say sewage running on to their land

Fearing for their health, those residing near the West Haus and Hillside Haus centres have blocked road access to two Australian detention camps

Gulf News

Canberra: Landowners on Manus Island have again blockaded the entrance to the Australian-run immigration centres, protesting over what they say is untreated sewage running from the centres on to their land, and the foul smell.

The asylum seekers and refugees inside the centres have been told by security not to venture outside the fenced area for safety reasons.

Pakistani refugee Ezatullah Kakar said the protest began, without warning, early on Saturday.

“Around 6am this morning, the local landowners blocked the West Haus and Hillside camps road. No one is allowed to use the road,” he said.

“The locals complain about the sewage from West Haus ... Australian officials are negotiating with the locals.”

The three accommodation centres built by the Australian government after the detention centre inside the Lombrum military base was ruled illegal and unconstitutional have attracted repeated protests from the landowners on whose property they were built — without adequate consultation or compensation, they say.

The asylum seekers and refugees have repeatedly been threatened that they will be attacked if they go outside.

Manusians living close to to two of the centres — West Haus and Hillside Haus — have barricaded the road entry to the camps. They say untreated sewage is flowing down a hill on to their land and that the smell from the open sewer is making them unwell.

A crude roadblock, manned by Manusians, has been erected across the road to West Haus and Hillside Haus, with signs saying “sewrage smell not tolerable”, “please fix sewrage” and “we are not invisible” (sic).

In a video posted online, an open brackish stream of water is seen flowing down from behind the toilets of West Haus, past the dining area and on to land owned by a local family.

“This is sewage come from toilets in the West Haus,” a voice in the video says. “This is very close to the mess.”

Iranian refugee and journalist Behrouz Boochani, a Manus detainee, said the Manusians whose homes were near the new immigration centres were “very angry that the dirty water is running into their houses”.

“The local people are complaining about the hygiene situation because it is making people sick. The new camps are very close to small villages and make the life hard for people there. It’s a problem created by the government and the government should take responsibility.

“Manus Island has not a hospital with advance medical equipment and if people become sick there is not enough medical facility here to provide medical treatment for them.”

The PNG immigration department had not responded to requests from the Guardian for comment.

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