Reports have emerged of baton-wielding officials dragging refugees from their rooms towards buses bound for PNG-run transition centres elsewhere on Manus.

Asylum seekers sit on the ground as they refuse to leave the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea. November 9, 2017
Asylum seekers sit on the ground as they refuse to leave the Manus Island detention center in Papua New Guinea. November 9, 2017 (AP)

Papua New Guinea authorities said on Friday they had relocated the last asylum seekers who had refused for three weeks to leave a closed immigration camp for fear they would face violence in the alternative accommodations.

Police Chief Superintendent Dominic Kakas said police and immigration officials removed all 378 men from the male-only camp on Manus Island over two days and took them by bus to residences in the nearby town of Lorengau.

"Everybody's gone. Everybody got on the buses, they packed their bags and they moved over," Kakas said.

Refugee advocates say officials used force and destroyed asylum seekers' belongings to make them leave Manus.

Video was released of officials in the camp wielding what appeared to be wooden sticks.

Water, power and food supplies ended when the Manus camp ended officially closed on October 31, based on the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court's ruling last year that Australia's policy of housing asylum seekers there was unconstitutional. But asylum seekers fear for their safety in Lorengau because of threats from local residents.

TRT World's Oliver Whitfield-Miocic reports from Sydney.

"Help, help, they are killing us"

Australia pays Papua New Guinea, its nearest neighbor, and the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru to hold thousands of asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and Asia who have attempted to reach Australian shores by boat since mid-2013.

Before confirmation that Manus Island had been emptied, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed news that asylum seekers were leaving.

"I'm pleased to say in terms of Manus, that the reports we have are that busloads of the people at Manus are leaving, they're complying with the lawful directions of the PNG authorities and moving to the alternative facilities available to them and that's as they should," Turnbull told reporters.

"That is precisely what you should do, if you're in a foreign country. You should comply with the laws of that other country," he added.

Shen Narayanasamy, activist group GetUp's rights campaigner said in a statement: "I awoke this morning to frantic phone calls from refugees on Manus screaming: 'Help, help, they are killing us.' It is astounding that refugees being beaten and dragged out to buses has the support of the Australian government."

The Manus camp initially housed around 600 refugees, most of whom have been there since 2013, but around 200 moved voluntarily to the new centres earlier this month.

Iranian journalist and refugee Behrouz Boochani, who has acted as an unofficial spokesman for the men and was taken by police to one of the new centres on Thursday, said four full buses of refugees were taken from the closed camp Friday morning.

"The refugees are going to leave the prison camp. So many are in the buses and are on the way to the new camps," he said.

Responsibility to provide protection

The UNHCR said it was disturbed by the use of force by PNG police. 

"UNHCR reminds Australia of its obligation to take full responsibility and provide effective protection, safety and lasting solutions for all refugees and asylum-seekers in cooperation with the Papua New Guinean authorities," the organisation said in a statement Thursday.

The standoff with PNG authorities has drawn attention to Australia's harsh policy of sending asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to remote Pacific camps on Manus and Nauru.

The refugees are barred from resettling in Australia, but Canberra has struggled to transfer them to third countries, including the United States.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies