Fri, Sep 21, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Australian doctors request access to Pacific camps

Reuters, SYDNEY

Australian doctors yesterday said a “humanitarian emergency” is unfolding at an Australian-run detention center in the Pacific and asked for government permission to treat asylum seekers at the remote facility.

Australia’s hard-line immigration policy requires asylum seekers intercepted at sea trying to reach Australia to be sent for processing to three camps in Papua New Guinea and one on the South Pacific island of Nauru.

In a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Australian Medical Association said there is an urgent need to send a delegation of doctors to Nauru after reports of some asylum seekers harming themselves.

“There are now too many credible reports concerning the effects of long-term detention and uncertainty on the physical and mental health of asylum seekers,” association president Tony Bartone said in the letter seen by reporters.

The association represents doctors and medical students.

More than 1,000 men, woman and children are living in the camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. They are told they will never be settled in Australia.

Morrison declined to comment on the letter when asked by reporters in Canberra. He said many asylum seekers would soon be transferred to the US.

The US has said it would accept up to 1,250 refugees from Australia’s detention centers. About 300 have been resettled so far, refugee advocates said.

Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton in May said that hundreds of asylum seekers are likely to remain in the centers indefinitely as no other nation is willing to resettle them.

The detention of about 100 children has drawn the most severe criticism, spurred by a spate of self-harm incidents.

Australia, which says that the policy is necessary to deter drownings at sea, has transferred several children off Nauru.

Australia last month relocated a 12-year Iranian boy who had been on a hunger strike, two sources familiar with the transfer said.

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