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Police Commissioner Gari Baki said 50 police and immigration officials entered the Manus Island camp on Thursday morning and "peacefully relocated" 50 asylum seekers among the 378 men to alternative accommodation in the nearby town of Lorengau.

"The violent forced removal of peaceful refugees demonstrates that refugees and people seeking asylum are unsafe and at grave risk of harm in PNG and must be evacuated now to Australia to protect their human rights".

Iranian journalist and Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani has been detained by police, as local authorities continue their operation to disperse more than 400 men occupying the island's shuttered detention centre.

"The AFP has no member within the former Manus Regional Processing Centre and no involvement in today's actions", it said in a statement. Advocacy director Jana Favero said the situation is "a medical emergency festering inside a humanitarian crisis".

"There are alternative facilities that have been made available with food, water, security and medical services".

Earlier this year, Boochani was shortlisted in the journalism category for the 2017 Index on Censorship's Freedom of Expression Awards, and MEAA co-ordinated an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull which called for him to be resettled in Australia, which was co-signed by dozens of journalists and writers.

"It's still under construction. we saw for ourselves that they are trying to complete the site as quickly as possible but the fact remains that major work is still in progress", Lam said in a satellite phone call from Manus Island.

'This is a very fluid situation and it stands on a knife edge.

'We are blockading right now.

Papua New Guinea officials and police officers entering the Manus Island refugee center
Papua New Guinea officials pressure over 300 refugees to leave camp

Australia said it was a PNG operation.

'We believe it is time to stop the unacceptable and internationally criticised treatment of the refugees on Manus Island, who, though innocent of any crime, have been incarcerated and now abandoned there, ' the letter says.

New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees from the PNG centre, but Canberra has resisted this proposal - arguing it would effectively be a "back door" to Australia. "Now the PNG authorities are putting their lives at risk".

Canberra has steadfastly ruled out allowing the men into Australia, arguing it would prompt further human trafficking and lead to deaths at sea.

After reports of locals with machetes looting the center and attacking refugees on the island, many residents felt it was safer to stay where they are - even though food, water, and electricity are no longer provided.

Men inside the centre said local police who entered the centre today were aggressive and were destroying their belongings.

"If, as the case appears to be, he has been targeted and arrested because of his profile and his role as a journalist in an attempt to silence him, this is an egregious attack on press freedom that can not be let stand".

Australian Federal Police said in a statement to AFP that they had one liaison officer on Manus, but no personnel were in the camp or involved in the police operation.


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