The United Nations is warning of an escalating crisis on Manus Island after the death of a refugee.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says it is gravely concerned by deteriorating conditions at the Manus Island regional processing centre as authorities shuffle detainees around ahead of its October closure.
“The UNHCR is deeply saddened by the tragic death of a young refugee yesterday, which also highlights the precarious situation for vulnerable people on Manus Island,” the agency said on Tuesday.
An Iranian refugee with a history of mental illness took his own life in the township of Lorengau on Monday before he was due to move from detention into the Papua New Guinean community.
Refugee advocates have described the man’s suicide as a preventable tragedy.
The refugees in #Manus are calling for an independent investigation into Hamed’s death. The refugees argue that its suspicious.
— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) August 8, 2017
Tensions are high on Manus Island, with water and electricity cut off to some compounds at the centre as demolition works gather steam.
The UN believes the looming closure of the processing centre, along with the withdrawal of medical care, torture and trauma support and security services, is exacerbating a highly stressful situation for those on the island.
The agency says many of the nearly 800 refugees on Manus Island fear for their safety outside the centre following violent incidents in recent years.
Greens senator Nick McKim tried to disrupt parliament on Tuesday to label Manus Island and Nauru unsafe and demand the immediate evacuation of all refugees.
The situation on Manus Island was becoming more dire and dangerous by the hour, he said.
“The only safe place for these people is to be evacuated from Manus Island and Nauru and brought here to Australia,” he told senators.
Senator McKim read aloud the names of eight people who have died while in offshore detention since 2013, before pausing for a minute’s silence.
Cabinet minister Michaelia Cash labelled his move “way worse than disgusting”.
The UN insists critical services on Manus Island must continue, warning any further reduction of fundamental supports for refugees and asylum-seekers would add to the serious health and security risks of detainees.
The Iranian refugee’s death is being investigated by PNG authorities.
Adding to tensions on Manus Island and Nauru is the release of a leaked transcript of Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump discussing a people-swap deal in January.
The prime minister assured the new president the US was not obliged to accept a single refugee, needing only to process those held in detention to honour the bargain.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467. MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.