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Issue #1809      February 7, 2018

Detention regime abuse of children

There are serious concerns for the welfare of a two-week baby boy on Nauru. The baby was born to Iranian refugees on January 12. The baby has a seriously infected umbilicus that has been left untreated after the baby’s mother was turned away at the Nauru hospital being told that the baby was too young for antibiotics and to bathe the infection with salty water.

The infection had become so severe by January 26 the baby’s feet were swollen and bleeding. Doctors took six attempts to get intravenous drip into the baby.

Yet no antibiotics were administered until the next day at lunch-time. It seems that the antibiotics were only administered after advocates had contacted IHMS and Border Force in Australia.

“Tragically, this is yet another example of medical negligence on Nauru that may well have put this baby’s life at risk. It would be unacceptable in Australia; it should be unacceptable in Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “There is a very real risk of septicaemia in such situations and Nauru is a long way from life-saving medical intervention. Monitoring the baby’s temperature is an elementary measure of the scale of the infection.

“The safest measure is to arrange the baby’s medical evacuation. The fate of this baby’s life – like the lives of so many others on Nauru – rests with Border Force and Minister Dutton. In scores of cases, they have ignored doctors’ recommendations for medical treatment.

“That can’t be allowed to happen. Bring the baby and his family to Australia.”

There is a history of abuse of children in this inhumane detention system.

In 2014 information from the families of two pregnant women who had refused to leave a bus in Darwin after being brought from Nauru to Australia revealed a shocking story of trickery and abuse.

Contrary to earlier information, the pregnant women were dragged off the bus between 5:30 pm and 6:00 pm. Adnan, whose wife was on the bus, was physically restrained by four guards as his wife was taken off the bus.

Adnan has appealed for the immigration department to release the families or return them to Nauru. He told the Refugee Action Coalition, “All we want is to accommodation in the community, or send us to Nauru to be free. My wife is suffering physically, psychologically and emotionally. She is distraught. This move [to Australia] is destroying my family. My wife is not prepared for the birth like this. Even though there are no facilities on Nauru, we are better prepared for the baby.

“The past three days has been worse than the last seven months.”

Adnan also revealed that Serco and immigration had intentionally turned off the air-conditioning, allowing the bus to overheat up as they tried to force them off the vehicle.

Both pregnant women fainted after the bus was intentionally allowed to heat up. Hussein, the husband of the other pregnant woman collapsed and was taken to the medical centre in the detention centre.

“The treatment of these families was callous in the extreme. There needs to be a full and independent investigation of what happened to the families brought from Nauru. Two pregnant refugee women brought from Nauru to give birth have been shockingly treated,” said Ian Rintoul.

Next article – The wage system and the capitalist illusion

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