Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Australia denies refugees medical care again

Since 2013, Australia has been detaining refugees in concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island. The refugees face persistent neglect by the government that has a duty-of-care towards them - including an explicit denial of basic medical care:

Nearly 50 refugees and asylum seekers held on Nauru – including at least three women seeking to terminate a pregnancy – are being refused, or not considered for, overseas medical treatment, in defiance of doctors’ recommendations.

Three pregnant refugee women on Nauru have asked to terminate their pregnancies, for cultural, familial and health reasons. Doctors’ requests for them to be transferred overseas for the procedure have been rejected. Terminations are illegal on Nauru, a devoutly Christian country.

And Australian immigration department staff have confirmed to the Guardian that nearly 50 refugees and asylum seekers are on a waiting list for approval for medical transfer for a variety of conditions including musculoskeletal injuries and surgeries that cannot be performed on the island.

Why is the waiting list so long? Because all transfers must be approved by the Nauru hospital overseas medical referral committee, which never meets. And in the case of abortion, will not approve overseas transfer because it is illegal on Nauru. And this suits the Australians perfectly - both because it increases the harshness of the conditions in the concentration camps, but also because it prevents refugees from exercising their legal rights once in Australia to avoid being sent back to torture and neglect - thus fulfilling the government's promise to never let them into Australia.

This is absolutely vile. As for the solution, there's an obvious opportunity for the New Zealand government to step in and provide the medical care Australia won't. But that would require politicians who aren't craven vassals of our racist neighbours.