Detained by Australia in Papua New Guinea for more than three years, Azzam El Sheikh has been denied refugee status.
He is one of about 200 of the roughly 900 men detained on Manus Island have been denied refugee status, prompting the governments of Australia and PNG to begin repatriations.
Neither government would reveal how many men have been sent home, but it’s understood about 30 have left so far.
Many have been given sums of money up to US$25,000 to leave, but a refugee friend Naji says el Sheikh has not been offered a financial incentive.
“Azzam has real trouble back home. He told me,’ if they want to deport me I have to get out of Lebanon quickly, but without money I can’t escape and hide again. If they didn’t help me I prefer to die here rather than go and die there’.”
In a statement, the Australian Immigration Department said financial assistance is not always given.
“The amount of assistance provided to people who voluntarily return home is based on their individual circumstances and is determined on a case by case basis.”
The Refugee Action Collective’s Margaret Sinclair says El Sheikh has resisted two attempts to deport him by committing acts of self harm.
“Last Wednesday Australian Border Force and Papua New Guinea Immigration tried to forcibly deport him to Lebanon. He hurt himself on the plane and he also collapsed on the plane so he had to be removed and he wasput in the police lock-up. They tried to deport him again and again he resisted. He hit his head against a window and broke it.”
Naji says following the second deportation attempt El Sheikh was assaulted by police.
“I was there when they brought him back to the police lock-up. They were kicking him and pushing him on the ground.”
A video of Azzam El Sheikh in a police holding cell has appeared on Youtube in which he sends a message to the Australian Prime Minster Malcolm Turbnbull.
Journalist and detainee Behrouz Boochani said El Sheikh has appeared in court charged with breaking a window. - RNZI