Skip to main content

1 dead, dozens hurt after unrest at Australian center for asylum seekers

By Jethro Mullen and Mitra Mobasherat, CNN
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0548 GMT (1348 HKT)
One person was killed and dozens injured after unrest broke out overnight at an Australian detention center for asylum seekers on a remote island in Papua New Guinea.
One person was killed and dozens injured after unrest broke out overnight at an Australian detention center for asylum seekers on a remote island in Papua New Guinea.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "This was a very dangerous situation," an Australian official says
  • People in the Australian detention center on Manus Island breached its fences
  • Human rights groups have criticized the offshore facilities for processing asylum seekers
  • Australian officials say they deter people from attempting the dangerous journey

(CNN) -- One person was killed and dozens injured after unrest broke out overnight at an Australian detention center for asylum seekers on a remote island in Papua New Guinea, authorities said Tuesday.

Detainees breached fences surrounding the facility on Manus Island, which lies several hundred kilometers northeast of mainland Papua New Guinea, the Australian government said.

"This was a very dangerous situation where people decided to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the center and place themselves at great risk," said Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Order has now been restored at the facility on Manus, a sparsely populated jungle island, he said.

Asylum seekers die when boat capsizes
Australia debates asylum policy

Australia operates controversial offshore centers for processing asylum seekers on Manus and the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.

Australian authorities say the far-flung detention centers are a way of deterring people from attempting the perilous sea journey to Australia, where immigration is a delicate political issue.

But conditions at the facilities have been criticized by human rights advocates, who have reported cases of self-harm, hunger strikes and suicide attempts.

Riots and protests have flared in the past among people held in the centers on Manus and Nauru, many of whom end up there after traveling from South Asia and the Middle East in efforts to reach Australia.

Rioting asylum seekers on Nauru burned down their shelters at the processing facility last year.

The unrest on Manus overnight followed "low-level demonstrations" at the center on the island, Morrison said.

"The vast majority of transferees in that facility did not participate in that protest last night, that disturbance," he said. "They were removed for their safety to the oval just down the road, and nonessential staff who were running the center were also evacuated prior to things escalating last night."

Most of those hurt in the riots have been treated locally, but two severely injured people are being transferred to Australia, Morrison said. One of the two suffered a gunshot wound to the buttock, he said.

A total of 77 people received medical treatment, and 13 of them had serious injuries, authorities said.

The person who was killed suffered a head injury outside the center and died on the way to a hospital, he said.

"The news of a death is a great tragedy," Morrison said, expressing his sympathies to the deceased's family and friends.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT