Celebrated Australians want services restored to refugees

A dozen celebrated Australians have sent an open letter to the government warning that asylum seekers could die at a decommissioned immigration camp where food, water power and medical care were cut off more than three weeks ago.

The 12 former Australians of the Year on Thursday called on Australia to restore basic services to the camp on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and allow doctors to provide care there as reports emerged of an operation on Thursday to evict the remaining asylum seekers.

An Australian of the Year is chosen annually by a government-appointed board to celebrate the person's achievements and contributions to society.

Australia pays Papua New Guinea to hold asylum seekers who have attempted to reach Australian shores by boat.