Five years too many

There are 1600 people, including 123 children in critical condition as 19 July marks five years of Australia’s offshore processing policy.

Thursday, 19 July marks five years since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared ‘no asylum seeker that arrives in Australia by boat will be resettled in Australia,’ and with that one statement, mandatory offshore processing began.

The Turnbull government has escalated the punitive stance and harsh rhetoric on people seeking asylum via its Operation Sovereign Borders policy every year since.

In five years 3,127 people have been sent to offshore processing, while the government’s only solution to resettlement, the U.S. deal has resettled just 183 people, including 15 children.

While the Turnbull government continues to say that it does not detain children, has a non-discriminatory asylum policy and takes its international obligations seriously, there are around 1,600 people, including 123 children currently being denied freedom, adequate medical care for urgent and treatable medical conditions, and any information on when they will leave indefinite detention or where they will go.

Twelve men have died in offshore processing, the last few deaths barely making a blip in the Australian media and political landscape.

With the Trump administration under fire for separating families and detaining children, Australia’s offshore policy continues after five years too many, unabated and inadequately challenged by commercial media or politicians from all sides of the political spectrum.

The ASRC’s detention advocacy team are dealing with an increasing number of mental health emergencies daily, as men, women and children remain in critical condition and at great risk of losing their lives. Families continue to be separated and no real solution to resettle them is on Australia’s political agenda.

Detention Advocacy Manager, Natasha Blucher said: “Our team provides support to around 200 people in offshore processing, and among those 200 people alone, we have recorded over 65 critical incidents this year.”

“These include self-harm, suicide attempts, physical assaults and sexual assaults. This policy has failed, and it is breaking people,” Natasha said.

Aziz Abdul Adam, a refugee detained on Manus said: “We are human beings, just like you, just like me. Let’s deal with the refugee crisis with humanity, with support and with compassion to try to help people who are trying to get to safety.

“What we have been made to endure and lose all these years is incomprehensible. This harm continues to be inflicted and we do not know when it will end and how much more we will suffer.

“More people could even be killed on Manus. So far seven men have lost their lives.”

The ASRC continues to call on the Turnbull government to #EvacuateNow everyone held in offshore processing on Manus and Nauru to Australia for urgent medical treatment and to await their asylum outcome in safety.

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