Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Child refugees in Nauru camp struggle to eat, drink, talk - MSF

Dr Christine Ruffler Dr Dr Beth O’Connor and Mc Phun from Médecins Sans Frontières addressing the media. — Reuters Dr Christine Ruffler Dr Dr Beth O’Connor and Mc Phun from Médecins Sans Frontières addressing the media. — Reuters
Jeannette Daniel | 13 October, 2018, 17:02

While the Australian government has retorted that staff from International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) visit Nauru, McPhun said that the refugees do not trust them given they are being paid by a government that prevents them from leaving or indefinitely imprisons them.

The mental health of refugees detained by Australia on the Pacific island of Nauru has deteriorated so badly that some children are in a "semi-comatose state", unable to eat, drink or talk, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said on Thursday.

The Morrison government faces an enormous challenge in finding alternative resettlement places for the hundreds of refugees still on Nauru and Manus Island after more than five years, as Mr Trump's "extreme vetting" approach results in mass rejections.

This week, MSF was told they would no longer be needed, and staff visas were cancelled as they left Nauru in recent days.

He said it was "very unusual" for MSF to be so quickly ejected from a country.

"Separating families, holding men, women and children on a remote island indefinitely with no hope of protection except in the case of a medical emergency, is cruel and inhumane".

NGOS continue to denounce the immigration policy is draconian in Australia. It added that the Australian government should transfer all refugee and asylum seeker children and their families to Australia. The first page of our memorandum of understanding. specifically includes refugees and asylum seekers,"McPhun said".

A social media campaign started this week by Simon Holmes à Court aimed to raise $35,385 (A$50,000) to project faces of refugee children onto the Sydney Opera House.

Nearly all 900 asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru, including 115 children, have been on the island for more than five years, with no clear process or prospect of permanent resettlement.

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The migrants who live in camps on Nauru say they have limited access to health care.

Prior to the MSF team arriving in Nauru in November 2017, McPhun said there was one resident, one mental health nurse and one psychiatrist.

O'Connor also detailed the "withdrawal syndrome", which has been documented in many young people on Nauru. Many were not able to toilet themselves.

The Department of Home Affairs said it took seriously its role in supporting Nauru to "ensure that transferees are provided with a range of health, welfare and support services arrangements", and "this has not changed".

"Seeing that level of deterioration in the children was really quite horrific".

For the last 11 months, MSF psychologists and psychiatrists have worked to stabilize and manage the symptoms of dozens of patients on Nauru.

Dr Christine Rufener, a clinical psychologist who also spent several months on Nauru, fought back tears as she spoke of her experiences on the island. At least 78 patients seen by MSF doctors had suicidal ideations, engaged in self-harm or attempted suicide.

"The word I heard most often in my own therapy sessions with patients was "destroyed".

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