Doctors beg Australian Border Force to move terminally ill refugee off Nauru
Australian immigration and asylum Doctors beg Australian Border Force to move terminally ill refugee off Nauru
ABF staff on the island have made repeated requests to Canberra for intervention
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Doctors on Nauru have pleaded with the Australian Border Force to move a terminally ill Afghan refugee off the island for palliative care.
The oldest Afghan Hazara held on Nauru, 63-year-old Ali*, has advanced lung cancer and his prognosis, according to doctors familiar with his case, is âdireâ.
Aliâs health has deteriorated precipitously over the last two months and doctors have repeatedly told the ABF he requires palliative care that cannot be provided on Nauru. He is currently in the Australian-built RPC1 camp on the island, which doctors on the island have said is âdangerously inadequateâ.
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Members of the Afghan Hazara refugee community on Nauru have pleaded with doctors, departmental case managers and welfare organisations for him to be moved for treatment.
âHeâs very unwell, very unwell,â a Hazara community member told the Guardian from Nauru. âThe doctor told me he has only months left in his life, because of cancer in the last stage.
âWe have tried many times to help him for more treatment, to se nd him to Australia. Unfortunately, nothing has happened.â
Previously, Ali had worked in construction during his five years held on Nauru but his illness has left him requiring around-the-clock care.
âHe can talk but not properly like before,â a friend said. âHis right arm is not working, he cannot change his own shirt.
âHeâs very thin. He can walk but not very much. His colour has all gone.
âWhen he was working before, he was strong, but now he is very weak.â
Ali has a wife and children in Afghanistan. But he has been recognised as a refugee â" he has a well-founded fear of persecution and cannot legally be returned to his homeland. He is legally owed protection by Australia.
Despite this, Department of Home Affairs staff have previously told Ali he should abandon his protection claim and return to Afghanistan voluntarily. The ABF has also considered sending him to Taiwan for palliative care but this option has been rejecte d.Victorian Labor conference to debate ending offshore immigration processing Read more
Doctors and other sources on Nauru have told the Guardian that Ali needs urgent care.
âItâs the only thing we ask,â a Hazara friend said, âthat they take him to Australia to get some treatment. Maybe he will live a little longer, maybe God will help him, or maybe he can just be more comfortable and cared for. But he is suffering here.
âWe feel hopeless, because of this unfair treatment.â
Nauru sources say ABF staff are concerned about the reaction of the refugee and asylum seeker community if Ali dies on the island. On-island ABF staff have made repeated requests to Canberra for intervention in his case.
Already, the situation on the island is tense with the large cohort of Iranian refugees effectively excluded from the US resettlement deal by the presidential âtravel banâ.
There is also an acute and growing issue around ch ild mental health, with Australian courts ordering acutely unwell children â" some of whom are as young as 10 and who have attempted suicide repeatedly â" to be moved to Australia.
The deaths of refugees and asylum seekers who die in Australia from injuries and illnesses sustained in offshore detention are routinely investigated by the coroner.
The death of Hamid Kehazaei, who died from sepsis after his medical transfer was refused, and then delayed, by bureaucrats in Canberra, has been before a Brisbane coroner, due to report later this year.
The inquest into the death of Fazel Chegeni, who died on Christmas Island after escaping from the detention centre there, will begin later this year.
An inquest into the death of Omid Masoumali, who died in Brisbane after publicly self-immolating on Nauru, has not yet been scheduled.
IHMS, the Australian governmentâs contracted health provider on Nauru, refused to answer questions about when it had become aware of Aliâs critical health needs, when it first requested he be moved, or how many transfer requests to the ABF it had made.
The department of home affairs, the department that oversees the Australian Border Force, has not responded to questions from The Guardian.
â¢ Ali is a patronym, his full name is withheld to protect his family.Topics
- Australian immigration and asylum
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