Somali refugee in Manus Island detention centre attacked by locals

A Somali refugee held at the Australia-run detention centre in Manus Island was viciously attacked over the weekend, a human rights group said Monday, asking the government to bring those being held to Australia.

"The man, Masoud Ali Shiekh, was set upon by a group of locals with rocks in an unprovoked attack as he walked a friend to the bus stop near the transit centre at East Lorengau on Saturday," Sydney-based Human Rights Law Centre said in a statement.

"He suffered head injuries in the incident."

There are more than 800 refugees at the Manus Island detention facility in Papua New Guinea, which has vowed to shut it down after the country's Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in April.

"Continuing violent attacks against refugees on Manus Island are further evidence that Australia’s offshore detention centres must close and that the innocent people held there for the last three years must be brought to safety in Australia," the centre said.

Australia has intercepted all asylum seekers travelling to the country by sea since 2013, and either turns their boats back or processes their claims offshore in Manus Island or Nauru.

Some 1,300 refugees and asylum seekers have been languishing in the two detention centres for the past three years.

So far only 24 people have resettled in Papua New Guinea. At least 560 people in the centre have been determined as genuine refugees who need asylum.

Shiekh, 27, is one of the "genuine refugees."

His family fled war-torn Somalia in 1993. He lived in Yemen and worked for the United Nations refugees agency before being forced to flee after he received death threats from a people smuggling syndicate who accused him of spying on their operation.

Daniel Webb, director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre, said he had met Shiekh during his visit to Manus Island earlier this year.

"Masoud really tried. He volunteered with a local organisation supporting people with disabilities. He studied the local language. He tried to make local friends ... But even for Masoud, Manus has proven to be a harmful and dangerous dead end," said Webb.

Shiekh told Australian newspaper The Age that he was shocked by the attack because he thought he was well known to the local community.

"It shows me that they don't want us in their community," he said.

He also asked the government to fly him out to Australia for treatment.

"The thing is there is no X-ray. It is broken. There is no scan. There is no anything. The injury is deep in the head and I can't open my eyes," Shiekh told The Age.

Webb also said that he had seen the aftermath of similar attacks during his visit when two Afghan refugees, who had fled the Taliban, were violently attacked by a group of seven locals.

"They were beaten with an iron bar, robbed and insulted. One of them collapsed and was taken to hospital unconscious," he said.

Last update: Mon, 10/10/2016 - 10:40

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