Sun, Aug 26, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Succession of critically ill children moved off Nauru

RESIGNATION SYNDROME:An Australian Department of Home Affairs source said that an air ambulance has been approved for a girl who is refusing any food or water

The Guardian

A girl suffering “resignation syndrome” and who is refusing all food and water has been ordered off Nauru by an Australian court, as a succession of critically ill children are being flown off the island.

At least three children since Thursday last week have left the island, and reports from island sources said that at least three more children, as young as 12, are “on FFR” — food and fluid refusal.

The crisis on the island is overwhelming medical staff, who are referring dozens of children for transfer off the island, only to have their decisions rebuffed by Australian Border Force officials on the island or Australian Department of Home Affairs bureaucrats in Canberra.

Two children were on Thursday last week moved off the island with their families.

A 14-year-old refugee boy suffering from major depressive disorder and severe muscle wastage, after not getting out of bed for four months, was early on Friday morning flown directly from Nauru to Brisbane with his family.

There were concerns that he might never be able to walk normally again, doctors said.

In the Australian Federal Court later on Friday, Justice Tom Thawley ordered another girl — given the designation EIV18 by the court — to be moved to Australia for urgent medical treatment.

Court orders prevent publication of the girl’s age — other than that she is a child — her name or country of origin.

Guardian Australia reported on the girl’s case on Wednesday. Three separate doctors had independently assessed her and all had recommended that she be moved urgently from the island, but this was resisted by the Australian government.

The girl has been inside the supported accommodation area of the regional processing center for three weeks, and has been refusing food and water for much of that time.

Before she fell into acute depression and refused to eat or drink anything, she had been one of the brightest and most articulate of the refugee children on Nauru.

“Before she got sick, she was the best-performing student,” a source familiar with the girl and her condition told the Guardian. “She had a dream to be a doctor in Australia and to help others. Now, she is on food and fluid refusal and begging to die, as death is better than Nauru.”

“I can’t live on this island anymore,” the girl told her Australian advocate. “I hate everything and everyone around me. I hate to go outside.”

“We left our country to have a good and better life, but we faced the worst life ever, the life which forced us to end it,” she said.

The court ordered the girl be moved “on an urgent basis” from Nauru.

The next commercial flight was not until today, but doctors said the girl was too unwell to take a commercial flight.

A Department of Home Affairs source in Canberra confirmed that an air ambulance flight was approved for the girl, but that the government was waiting on arrangements to be made for her family.

Sources on Nauru said that up to three more refugee and asylum-seeker children on the island were refusing food and fluids, including two brothers aged 14 and 15.

“Only the most critically ill cases are being addressed,” the Nauru sources said, adding that “the situation is dangerously chaotic.”

A 12-year-old girl who attempted to self-immolate this week has not been moved, they added.

Island sources said there is an uncontrollable “contagion” of children committing self-harm, attempting suicide or refusing all food and fluids.

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