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Issue #1688      June 10, 2015

Playing politics with a child’s broken arm

Refugee advocates are maintaining their call for the Immigration Minister to bring the 11 year-old Iranian refugee from Nauru to Australia for an urgent operation to reset his broken arm.

Having dropped sending him to India, the latest proposal is for the government to send a Sydney doctor to Nauru to operate on the boy’s arm.

“The government is trying to bully Erfan’s parents into agreeing to have the operation on Nauru, even though the equipment and facilities to safely and successfully operate are not available there,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Erfan has been in pain since setting his broken arm was botched by doctors at the Nauru hospital on May 5.

“It is time the Minister stopped playing politics with Erfan’s arm and brought him to Australia. Immigration officials told Erfan’s parents that there was no other option but to operate on Nauru. But that is not true. A female Connect case worker who broke her hand 10 days ago on Nauru was immediately medivacced to Australia for treatment,” said Rintoul.

“If Nauru was unacceptable for the Connect worker, it is unacceptable for Erfan. The only reason Erfan hasn’t been brought to Australia is that he is a refugee. When IHMS thought he was an asylum seeker, Erfan’s parents were told that he would be taken to Australia.

“It is a shocking case of the Minister abandoning common sense and trying to score political points at the expense of a boy’s arm and the anxiety of the boy’s parents. Delaying Erfan’s treatment in this way is unforgivable.”

Refugee advocates continue to urge the Immigration Minister to make immediate arrangements to bring Erfan, the 11 year-old with the broken arm, to Australia for urgent surgery.

Even the resident doctor at the Nauru hospital now recommends offshore treatment, after another cast was placed on Erfan’s arm yesterday: “I’d strongly recommend early referral offshore for MRI, assessment by a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon and ORIF.” (ORIF is Open reduction and internal fixation.)

“We are extremely concerned at the conditions in the Nauru hospital. We don’t believe that Erfan can be safely operated on, on Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Erfan’s mother has also expressed her concerns, “I am very worried about my son to be operated on in Nauru. The power is gone four or five times a day, almost every day, and the hospital does not have a generator. How can they do it?”

Doctors for Refugees has also expressed their concerns, saying, “We ask that Minister Peter Dutton expedite his transfer to the Australian mainland for urgent surgery to prevent permanent disability.”

Similarly, the Refuge Action Coalition is calling for the Minister to bring Erfan and other refugees who need urgent treatment to the mainland where they can get the medical attention they need.

Next article – More of our kids held in detention

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