Weekly media wrap - 24 October 2018

The mental and physical health of children and families on Nauru dominated this week’s news. Following the return of Médecins Sans Frontières staff from Nauru and their call for the transfer of refugees from Nauru to Australia, support for the proposed transfer is building. On Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison received a letter signed by almost 6000 medical professionals that called for the removal from Nauru of 80 children suffering health issues. Meanwhile, a number of families were ‘quietly’ flown to Australia from Nauru on medical advice.

In related news, after talks with the Australian Medical Association, the Labor party proposed legislation to allow for easier transfers of refugees from Nauru to Australia for health treatment. Three Liberal Members of Parliament also requested Scott Morrison to resolve what has been termed the humanitarian emergency on Nauru. Morrison is also reconsidering the resettlement of refugees from Nauru to New Zealand, if the Australian parliament passes a law that bans resettled refugees from ever entering Australia.  

Onshore, a year after Australia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council, the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) submitted a case to the UN Human Rights Committee against the Australian Government on behalf of 14 families who have been separated for up to five years as a result of offshore detention policies. The submission coincides with a ruling by the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Arbitrary Detention that states that the Australian Government has breached international human rights by arbitrarily detaining an Iranian asylum seeker since 2015.

In Manus Island news, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that 17 more refugees resettled to the US from Papua New Guinea. This brings the total number of refugees resettled under the US deal to 435.

Internationally, the ‘caravan’ of Central American refugees crossed the Mexican border where they were temporarily stopped by Mexican riot police. President Trump threatened to deploy the US military to close the US-Mexico border if Mexico did not halt their progress. Separately, the North African countries of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia refused to allow establishment of European offshore processing centres called ‘disembarkation platforms’ on their territory.