BY YVETTE JURD
Manus Island staff members have been issued with a two-page guide on dealing with questions about the detainees’ fears for their safety, living conditions and human rights.
Refugees are expressing concerns after the bloody attacks last month, and the document is designed to help soothe these issues.
The events of that night have prompted five separate inquiries as news continues to emerge about what happened on February 17.
This week an Australian security guard with the G4S firm related details of the night Reza Barati was killed. He told the ABC that asylum seekers were hunted down and bashed, with enraged locals and contract staff going room to room armed with machetes, sticks and metal bars.
The guard said PNG police stood by as the violence escalated and in some cases participated.
The experience has not only traumatised asylum seekers, but many of the staff at the detention centre as well. According to this G4S guard, asylum seekers are now wondering whom they can trust, and who will protect them and keep them safe.
The International Medical and Health Services (IHMS) are responsible for the mental and physical health care of detainees on Manus Island, and they are being asked myriad questions regarding their safety.
The IHMS has provided employees with two pages of suggested responses. There are 15 frequently asked questions including the following questions and answers, included in this document:
Q. How can we feel safe here?
A. We understand that you feel unsafe after all that’s happened. It will take a while to feel safe again and we are all working to try and make that happen.
Q. Will they do it again?
A. This was an extraordinary event and we have never seen anything like it before. We hope it’s never repeated. Security is a big concern here right now to protect you. What we suggest is to not antagonise the local people and we hope that they will treat you with respect too.
Q. Why doesn’t Australia care?
A. We can understand why you would feel this way. We are certain from your own experiences you understand that the people of a country are not the same as government. There are many Australian’s who care and want to help.
All IHMS staff have been urged to help keep the asylum seekers’ hope alive.
The ABC has spoken with expat Australian staff and those in detention, and according to these sources, hostility and suspicion between asylum seekers and locals have led to a strong fear that things will get out of control again.
Featured image: A G4S guard says asylum seekers don’t know who they can trust, or who will protect them. Photo: Greens MPs/CC/flickr.