PNG COVID CRISIS WORSENS: ADVOCATES CALL TO BRING REFUGEES HERE

Refugee Action Coalition

MEDIA RELEASE


AS PNG COVID CRISIS WORSENS ADVOCATES CALL FOR REFUGEES TO BE BROUGHT TO AUSTRALIA


As the spread of COVID in Papua New Guinea reaches a crisis-point, refugee advocates are calling on the Australian government to bring refugees and asylum seekers from PNG to Australia.

PNG nationals waiting for Covid test at Pacific International Hospital where refugees are also treated.


The report that up to 40 per cent of pregnant women in a Port Moresby labour ward tested positive for Covid-19, is just one indication of the extent of community transmission in PNG. Half of PNG Covid tests being done in Queensland are returning positive results.


The PNG Prime Minister James Marape has declared that PNG is in a ‘red alert phase because of community transmission occurring in a number of provinces in the country’. The National and Supreme court complex in Port Moresby has been locked down for two weeks.


In the last two weeks, six of the Manus refugees in Port Moresby have been found to be Covid positive. Five of them are in isolation in the Lamana hotel. There are around 140 of the refugees and asylum seekers, who the Australian government sent to Manus Island in 2013, still being held in PNG.


“Papua New Guinea needs urgent humanitarian aid to avoid a social disaster,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Australia could supply vaccine for the whole population, not just for the Torres Strait.”


“But the Australian government has a particular duty of care to the refugees they have kept for eight years and are still keeping in Papua New Guinea,” said Ian Rintoul.


“The government has already damaged their mental and physical health. Now, the government is exposing them to even greater and unnecessary risk. They are being held in hotels scattered around Port Moresby; ideal conditions in which Covid can spread. They should be urgently evacuated to Australia.


“There are even refugees who had been approved under the Medevac laws who needed medical treatment in 2019 have not yet been transferred to Australia.”


“The hundreds of millions of dollars that the government is spending holding refugees in PNG should be spent on direct medical and humanitarian aid for the people of Papua New Guinea. Offshore detention has been a shocking waste of money and lives. All the refugees and asylum seekers should be brought to Australia where they can get the safety and protection they need.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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