Another refugee dies in Australian detention

 25 Dec 2016 - 10:24

Another refugee dies in Australian detention
Refugee advocates hold a banner during a protest in central Sydney, Australia, on Oct 5, 2016, calling for the closure of the Australian detention centres located in Nauru and Manus Island. PHOTO: REUTERS.

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MELBOURNE, Australia: A 27-year-old Sudanese refugee has died in a hospital on the Australian mainland from injuries sustained after "a fall and seizure" at the government’s offshore processing center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

On Saturday, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection issued a statement saying the man was “air-lifted to Australia for further medical care on Friday after he collapsed and struck his head on Thursday. He died at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital on Saturday.”

Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul has identified the man as Faysal Ishak Ahmed and accused the Australian government of “medical negligence”. 

Australia deems asylum seekers who arrive without visas “illegals” and detains them in offshore processing centers on Nauru and Manus Island, both islands in the Pacific Ocean. They are refused permanent residency in Australia.

Referring to a “culture of dismissal” toward Ahmed, Rintoul told Anadolu Agency on Saturday that the 27-year-old had been suffering headaches and “fainted several times over the past few weeks” and yet was “turned away and not seen by doctors at IHMS [International Health and Medical Service]” on Manus Island.

“On Wednesday, the day before he collapsed and hit his head, Faysal told other refugees that the IHMS doctor had threatened him and had told him ‘You are not sick… do not come to us again,’ and, ‘If you do we will not treat you’,” Rintoul said.

The official statement from the Department of Immigration and Border Protections says it is “not aware of any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death" and "expresses its sympathies to his family and friends".

According to Rintoul, “Faysal is another fatal victim of Australia’s brutal detention regime.”

Earlier this year, Omid Masoumali died after setting himself alight on Nauru due to the indefinite nature of the detention. Just weeks later, another detainee also attempted self-immolation.

A statement circulated to Anadolu Agency from Behrouz Boochani, a refugee on Manus Island, said Ahmed was “seriously sick for more than six months”.

"More than 60 people wrote a letter to IHMS and explained to them how Faysal is sick and has constant headache and heart problem," Boochani said.

"Every day Faysal went to medical asking for help. They did not help him. A few days ago a nurse in IHMS told Faysal that he was fine and didn't need medical treatment. Now we know he has died."

Rintoul told Anadolu Agency that before Ahmed left Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby to fly to Brisbane on Thursday, he had written another letter of complaint to Border Force and IHMS. 

In April, Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court ruled that Australia's detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was illegal.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed in August that the detention center on Manus Island would be closed. No date has been set for the closure.

In November, Australia and the United States reached an agreement for a one-off refugee resettlement deal for people held in detention by Australia on Manus Island and Nauru. The election of Donald Trump, however, has raised doubts about the deal.

Anadolu Agency requested a response from the office of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton.