Government lacks compassion for ‘terminally ill’ refugee

A terminally ill refugee on Nauru has been refused entry to Australia where he hoped to receive palliative care, according to advocacy groups. The 63-year-old Afghan Hazara has advanced lung cancer and is currently receiving treatment in the regional processing centre.

Ian Rintoul, a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, said the organisation had been in contact with the man throughout 2018.

“For a long time, there was no diagnosis although he was kept in the International Health and Medical Services clinic [in the regional processing centre],” Mr Rintoul said.

“You have to be very sick to be kept there. But he was not sent anywhere for further treatment or further tests.

“We suspect now that if he had got proper tests months ago, that the cancer may have been discovered much earlier and he may have been able to be treated.”

The individual reportedly asked to be sent to Australia to be looked after by members of the Hazara community (an ethnic group native to Hazarajat in central Afghanistan) but his request was refused.

Mr Rintoul said the Australian government was “denying the last wishes of a dying man to have some peace and comfort in his last days”.

“The government is now so obsessed with maintaining the punitive integrity of offshore detention that they have lost any sense of proportion,” he said.

This comes after an Amnesty International report in May accused the Australian government of winding back critical healthcare services at its offshore detention centre on Manus Island.

The human rights organisation said in a report that one remaining detainee who suffered a heart attack in February 2017 is yet to receive treatment and that refugees are being forced to phone doctors in Australia for emergency medical advice.

Jeremy Nadal, Freelance Journalist

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