Crowe offers to house refugees

The 600 asylum seekers barricaded inside an abandoned detention centre in Papua New Guinea without food or running water are Australia's "shame", Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe said on Thursday, offering to house six of the detainees.

For two days, the men in the Manus Island Processing Centre have defied efforts by Australia and Papua New Guinea to close the camp, saying they fear violence from the local community if they are moved.

The stand-off was a "disgrace", Crowe, a New Zealand citizen who has lived in Australia for most of his life, told his 2.7 million Twitter followers.

He tweeted: "I believe I could house and find jobs for six. I'm sure there'd be other Australians who would do the same."

The stand-off has prompted condemnation, particularly from bodies such as the United Nations, though Crowe's intervention could spotlight the issue at a time when some detainees are showing the ill effects of having no food for two days.

A spokesman for Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment, saying only there had been no change in the government's policy of refusing to allow any asylum seekers arriving by boat to reach Australian shores, and detaining them instead in camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific. - REUTERS