United Nations implores Australia to resume feeding 'starving' refugees at remote camp

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after a visit to Borough Market in central London

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after a visit to Borough Market in central London

Thousands of people rallied in Melbourne Saturday in support of 600 men refusing to leave an Australian-run migrant camp in Papua New Guinea (PNG) that closed this week.

He said New Zealand too had benefited from Australia's tough policy of stopping the boats and people smugglers were also attempting to get people to New Zealand.

Noting that all migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers have a right to a safe and secure environment, a right to an adequate standard of living and to participate in the decision-making process that is affecting their future, Colville said: "Human dignity should be ensured throughout the entire processing of their asylum claims".

During a session at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull turned down the offer of assistance from the neighboring nation, saying that his government was "not taking it up at this time".

Campaigners say the government in Canberra is "treating the men like animals" and are demanding they be allowed to resettle in Australia.

Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam accuses Australia of abandoning them, and hopes New Zealand will offer them sanctuary.

Ardern said in a statement the offer would be covered by New Zealand's existing refugee quota and applied to offshore refugees on both Manus Island and the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru.

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United Nations rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news conference in Geneva on Friday about the "unfolding humanitarian emergency" in the Manus island center, where asylum seekers have been reported digging wells to try to find water. They are Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Afghans, Iranians, Sri Lankans and other nationalities.

"But also we have urged Australia and PNG to de-escalate the situation, resume basic services - water, electricity, medical services as well".

"We repeat our overall concerns about Australian offshore processing centres which are unsustainable, inhumane and contradictory to its human rights obligations", Colville said.

Ms Ardern offered to accept 150 refugees from the offshore detention camps, similar to an offer made by former NZ Prime Minister John Key in 2013. "They force us to starve".

New Zealand citizens are typically allowed to work and live in Australia, a pathway that Australia fears could be used by the refugees to move to Australia.

Boochani said the New Zealand offer was "our best chance". "We r dying", he said on Twitter. So far, about 50 refugees have been settled under the deal.

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