Weekly media wrap - 24 November 2018

A new report from Amnesty International and the Refugee Council of Australia revealed the dire mental and physical conditions of the asylum seekers who remain on Manus Island, and that acts of self-harm and suicide attempts have worsened. The report criticises the restricted and understaffed heath and counselling services and the lack of protection for the more than 600 asylum seeker men still on the Island. Since August 2017, there have been three suicides and many more incidences of self-harm and attempted suicide.

The Australian Government stated that it will not sign the United Nation’s migration pact (the Global Compact), claiming it may threaten border protection and risk Australia’s efforts to stop people-smuggling. The USA and several European countries have also rejected the pact, stating that it would weaken border security and undermine existing immigration programs. The Global Compact’s aim is to improve international cooperation on migration and to allow safe, orderly and regular migration.

Teachers across many major Australian cities took part in rallies against offshore detention. The teachers, backed by several major unions to leave their classrooms and attend the rallies, called for asylum seekers and refugees, particularly children, to be released from detention on Manus Island and Nauru. The rallies coincided with Universal Children’s Day. This week five more children were evacuated from Nauru.

Anne Richard, the former US assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, stated that the USA was of the understanding that Australia would do more to assist refugees from outside its region, particularly from Central America, in exchange for the USA resettling refugees from Nauru and Manus Island.

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister expressed his concern that New Zealand’s offer to take refugees currently on Manus Island and Nauru may include a potential element to ban them from travelling to Australia. This follows Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent statement that he may be more open to a deal with New Zealand if it prescribed that the refugees would be banned from ever coming to Australia.