The ongoing humanitarian crisis on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has spurred twelve former Australians Of The Year to pen an open letter, urging the Australian Government to allow medical professionals to access more than 400 asylum seekers who refuse to vacate the now-shuttered detention centre.
2015 recipient Rosie Batty, 2013 recipient Ita Buttrose, and 2009 recipient Mick Dodson are among those who’ve put their name to the letter, which calls for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to intervene in “the health and human disaster that is unfolding on Manus Island.”
Regarding Australia’s decision to cut off food, water, and electricity to the site in an apparent attempt to move the men to alternative accomodation – which asylum seekers state is woefully inadequate and unsafe – the letter says “it is inevitable that people will become sick and even die” due to the conditions.
“Australians from all walks of life, from all sides of the political spectrum, are hoping that your government will now move to prevent these consequences of neglect,” the letter says.
“We believe that it is time to stop the unacceptable and internationally criticised treatment of the refugees on Manus Island, who, though innocent of any crime, have been incarcerated and now abandoned there.”
The letter references a recent statement from the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which unanimously voted to offer medical assistance to the asylum seekers currently on the island.
“It is our responsibility as a nation with a strong human rights record to ensure that we look after the health and wellbeing of these men, and provide them with safe and hygienic living conditions,” AMA president Michael Gannon said earlier this week.
The letter also calls on the government to find a suitable home for the genuine asylum seekers “without any further delay.”
The detention centre officially closed at the start of the month, after the Papua New Guinea government deemed its existence breached the fundamental human rights of detainees.
You can read the full letter HERE, and find out more about the circumstances that lead up to today’s crisis HERE.
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