International desk, November 23: Police in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have entered a former Australian-run detention centre in a bid to get asylum seekers who remain there to leave.Hundreds of men have refused to leave the Manus Island centre since it was closed on 31 October, citing fears for their safety in the local community.
On Thursday, men inside the camp said that PNG police had given them a one-hour deadline to leave. One refugee, a journalist, was detained and released.
Australia said it was a PNG operation.
Under a controversial policy, Australia has detained asylum seekers who arrive by boat in camps on Manus Island and Nauru, a small Pacific nation.
Australia shut down the Manus Island centre after a PNG court ruled it was unconstitutional, urging asylum seekers to move to transit centres elsewhere on the island.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation would “not be pressured” into accepting the men, reiterating a long-held policy that such a move would encourage human trafficking.
One refugee, Abdul Aziz Adam, said about 420 asylum seekers were in the centre early on Thursday. PNG police later told Australia’s ABC that about 35 men had left voluntarily.