Outcry Over Planned Booting of MSF on Nauru
9 October 2018 at 8:44 am
Refugee advocacy groups fear the health conditions of refugees and asylum seekers will deteriorate following revelations a vital health organisation is being ordered off Nauru.
A spokesperson from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said they were still on Nauru, and were currently in negotiation with authorities on whether they could stay or not.
On Saturday, MSF emailed clients and said their services would finish that day, as they were no longer needed.
“As a consequence, we are suspending our activities as we gather more information from the Ministry of Health on the rationale for this decision and more clarity on the alternative plans of mental health provisions on the island,” the email said.
MSF provided free psychological and psychiatric services on the island to both refugees and Nauruans since 2017.
The Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) warned the end of the health service would significantly add to the distress among asylum seekers and refugees on the island, especially as the government medical services provider was at breaking point.
RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul said MSF was removed because the Nauruan government believed they were helping refugees, but it was up to Australia to do something about it.
“The offshore detention monster created by Australia is indeed out of control. The deliberate distress of five years of offshore detention has created the medical emergency that we are currently witnessing,” Rintoul said.
“It is up to the government to evacuate Nauru and Manus Island, and bring all asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.”
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) also expressed its outrage and renewed calls from its campaign to Get Kids off Nauru.
“At a time when children are at a high risk of dying, MFSA get kicked off Nauru. This must be the last straw,” ASRC said on Twitter.
This is deeply disturbing and outrageous. At a time where children are at high risk of dying, @MSFAustralia have just been kicked off #Nauru. This has to be the last straw and @ScottMorrisonMP must get #kidsoffnauru now. https://t.co/ReibMechRt
— ASRC (@ASRC1) October 7, 2018
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on ABC Radio on Monday the relationship between MSF and the Nauruan government was not a matter for Australia to get involved in.
“We have been working with International Health and Medical Services. We will continue to focus on them,” Hunt said.
MSF said in a statement they were extremely concerned about the health of their patients because of the decision.
“We urge the authorities to grant us permission to continue our lifesaving work,” the statement said.
MSF said they would be able to provide more information on the situation in the coming days.