Refugee watch 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Manus Island protests

A year after the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court ordered that the Manus Island detention centre be closed, people are still living in the same compounds and sleeping in the same beds.

In the latest protest, as tensions simmer inside the detention centre, guards hastily withdrew from Mike Compound on March 18 after a protest erupted in the mess area following Border Force renovations that made the serving area more like a prison.

Detainees had already objected to the new arrangement that required detainees to reach over a small fence in front of the serving window for a single tray. But the final straw came when detainees asked security how one of the very short detainees could be expected to reach the tray. “You can lift him up,” said the guards.

Detainees tore down the fence in front of the serving window, and overturned tables and chairs in the mess area. Wilson Security guards brought food the next morning and set up tables inside the perimeter fence. But no guards or Broadspectrum officers are in the compound.

US refugee deal

The refugee deal with the United States may still happen. US immigration agents have been taking fingerprints of asylum seekers on Nauru as part of the vetting process to determine who can go to the US.

But the US is not obliged to accept any refugees and, having slashed its refugee intake, the chances of a sizable number of people being resettled there still looks unlikely. 

Australia has no plans for the people who will be left behind and the immigration department said this week it is not in talks with other countries for resettlement.

Former US State Department assistant secretary for refugees and migration Anne Richardson has revealed part of the motivation for the deal was that Australia would accept more refugees from Africa and South America, particularly El Salvador.

Doctors’ submission to Senate inquiry

Doctors and health professionals have been giving evidence at a Senate inquiry into the conditions in detention centres.

Their submission includes a 700-page collation of incident reports from 2014–15. Testimonies state people had to wait months for urgent medical treatment such as scans, and there regular delays in transporting people to Australia for medical treatment. There have been deaths in detention as a result of avoidable delays in transfers.

Doctors have also revealed that private contractors deliberately downgraded incident reports to save money and that they needed to get approval from the immigration department to access medicines.

Doctors for Refugees finished their submission by recommending the urgent evacuation of all asylum seekers and refugees from Nauru and Manus Island.

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