Self-harm and suicide attempts have recently increased amongst refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island, sparking increased tensions and the deployment of a PNG paramilitary police unit. This crisis has also led to local hospitals being overrun as asylum seekers are being referred on to locally-funded health services despite Australia spending over $20 million on a healthcare contract with another hospital.
Australia has been internationally condemned for detaining a blind and mentally ill Tamil refugee, known as Kumar, for almost a decade. A United Nations working group stated that Kumar’s detention is a contravention of Australia’s human rights and international legal obligations. The group called on Australia to release Kumar from detention and offer compensation and reparations. Kumar was recognised by Australia as a refugee in 2010, and a previous adverse security assessment was overturned in 2016.
Labor’s Home Affairs spokeswoman, Kristina Keneally, claimed that an increasing number of asylum seekers are now reaching Australia via airplane. Keneally condemned the Australian Government’s efforts to maintain control of Australia’s air borders over the past four years, and questioned why aerial patrols of Australia’s borders were halted for an unknown period of time.