Refugees ban­ished from Oz to Nauru atoll in­hu­mane, says MSF

Cape Times - - WORLD - Agency | AP/African News

HU­MAN­I­TAR­IAN med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als ex­pelled from Nauru said yes­ter­day that asy­lum seek­ers Aus­tralia had ban­ished to the tiny Pa­cific atoll were sui­ci­dal and their chil­dren had lost hope.

The Nauru gov­ern­ment forced Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders (Médecins Sans Fron­tières ) out of the coun­try last week, abruptly end­ing its free med­i­cal care for asy­lum seek­ers refugees and lo­cal Nau­ru­ans.

The US has agreed to re­set­tle up to 2 500 refugees that Aus­tralia sent to Pa­pua New Guinea and Nauru.

Aus­tralia adopted a pol­icy five years ago to pre­vent asy­lum seek­ers from try­ing to reach Aus­tralian shores by boat by re­fus­ing to al­low any boat ar­rivals from ever mak­ing Aus­tralia their home.

Doc­tors with the group in Syd­ney said they had treated 78 refugee pa­tients who ei­ther at­tempted sui­cide, had sui­ci­dal thoughts or had harmed them­selves.

“Five years of in­def­i­nite limbo have led to a rad­i­cal de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of their men­tal health and well-be­ing,” the group’s Aus­tralia ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paul McPhun said. “Sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies, hold­ing men, women and chil­dren on a re­mote is­land in­def­i­nitely with no hope of pro­tec­tion ex­cept in the case of a med­i­cal emer­gency, is cruel and in­hu­mane.”

McPhun said Aus­tralia’s pol­icy of in­def­i­nite off­shore de­ten­tion “de­stroyed their re­silience, shat­tered all hope and ul­ti­mately im­pacted their men­tal health.”

Many chil­dren were suf­fer­ing trauma and un­able to eat, drink or talk.

A PA­TIENT be­ing at­tended to by a Médecins Sans Fron­tières (MSF) Aus­tralia men­tal health team in Nauru.

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