Today about 480 asylum seekers are left on Nauru, including seven children, and roughly 624 refugees are on Manus Island.
Some of the children brought to Australia by court order were as young as 10, and had attempted suicide on multiple occasions, but were still refused the treatment ordered by doctors by Australian government bureaucrats.
SBS News has obtained 161 pages of documents detailing the vast amount of medication prescribed inside the offshore detention centre on Nauru.
The following was posted online by a respected group - the Combined Action Refugee Group (CRAG) which brings together people across the Geelong region in Victoria, from a variety of backgrounds (Refugee Support Groups, Church and Community Groups, Unions, Political Groups, Social Justice and Social Action Groups, students and individuals) united by the shared aim of advocating for a just, humane and welcoming policy towards refugees and people seeking asylum.
5 THINGS WE CAN LEARN FROM THE CASE OF RAHAF AL-QUNUN
1. Refugees are people fleeing life-threatening persecution (based on race, religion, nationality, social group or political opinion) which does not necessarily involve war. If they are returned, they will most likely be killed by their persecutors.
2. Even people who do have access to passports risk being detected by their persecutors if they use them. This is why people sometimes need to acquire fake passports and/or travel by boat (this, and the fact that some people don't have any access to passports in their countries of nationality in the first place).
3. Countries which are not signatories to the UN Refugee Convention do not provide protection for refugees. Thailand was about to hand Rahaf back to her persecutors. This is why people often need to pass through non-signatory countries (e.g India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia) in order to get to safety in a signatory country.
4. There is no queue for refugee resettlement. The idea of a world-wide, 'take-a-number' system is a complete myth. Interviews and assessments happen based on factors such as the available resources in any given place, the level of co-operation of 'hosting' (in this case detaining) governments, and the particular vulnerabilities of the refugees concerned. Resettlement only happens after assessments are complete, and when there are offers from signatory countries. This could take many, many years (as is the case for refugees currently waiting in UNHCR camps or places like Indonesia where there are few supports and constant risk of deportation), it could occur in a year or two (as was the case for the people Australia resettled from Syria), or it may be almost immediate (as in Rahaf's case). There is no set time-frame.
5. Refugees do not "country shop". According to the UN Refugee Convention, refugees should take the first offer of protection (i.e. being allowed to safely stay in a signatory country). Other offers may not come, and people can’t accept one offer for resettlement then apply for another (unless there is a subsequent case of persecution in the resettlement country). In Rahaf's case, she was on her way to Australia but Canada offered her resettlement while Australia was still thinking about it, and so she accepted. People seeking asylum often move through non-signatory countries which do not provide protection (Thailand in Rahaf's case), in order to get to safe signatory countries which do offer protection. All refugees want is freedom in a place that will be safe for them.
More than 100 children and their families have come to Australia from Nauru in the past four months. However, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has maintained these refugees will not settle permanently in Australia.
During consultations with asylum seeker and refugee men, women and children, I began to understand the psychological damage they suffer from not knowing their future. The indefinite time frame of their ‘processing’ on Nauru, now at five years, has created a deep uncertainty for these people. They exist in limbo, with limited control over their lives and no ability to make decisions about their future. Patients also spoke about the injustice of their situation. Most people have been recognised as refugees, yet while they have been told there are processes to resettlement, the criteria are unclear. People try to learn the ‘rules’ of the system, but the rules keep changing. They realise it is impossible to help themselves.
In an echo of Donald Trump, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister David Coleman continued to pretend yesterday we only have sea borders and we can ignore our air borders. They announced closure of two detention centres without telling the Australian public that their mismanagement of the visa system will inevitably mean we will need lots of detention space in future if we are to ever regain control of the visa system and deal with the deluge of mainly non-genuine asylum seekers arriving by air
The Federal government will face a fresh test of its asylum seeker policy in the New Year with a bill to medically evacuate sick refugees from Manus Island and Nauru to be debated when parliament resumes in February.
It is not clear if the government evacuated the children voluntarily or if it was forced to do so by court order, as it was with dozens of children this year.
An informative and factual article by Samanatha Trenoweth in the Women's Weekly 27 December 2018 . Thank you Samantha for alerting readers to the true story of refugees on Nauru.