Manus crisis reaching breaking point as mental distress worsens

| June 24, 2019 | Reply

Conditions are reaching breaking point on Manus Island. This morning, Monday 24 June, two incidents of self-harm within hours have set the scene for another day of the Manus mental health crisis.

One refugee who swallowed a nail clipper, around 6.30am has been taken to the local hospital, although guards initially refused to transport him there because the hospital is overcrowded. A few hours later, an asylum seeker who has been refusing food for several days, has slashed his head.

Yesterday, Sunday 23 June, there were another five incidents of self-harm in Manus and Port Moresby, including two on Manus Island.

The night before that (Friday 21 June), Ravi, the 31-year-old Indian asylum seeker who set fire to himself and his room, along with two other Manus refugees, was transferred from Manus to the intensive care unit of Pacific International Hospital in Port Moresby.

The number of self-harm and attempted suicides in Manus and Port Moresby grows by the day. There are around 14 people being held in the Shamrock Compound on Manus Island following suicide attempts or self-harm incidents. (Attached is a photograph of one of the self-harm casualties being transported from Hillside camp on Saturday 22 June.)

But, the reported self-harm incidents are only the tip of the iceberg as many others exhibiting the symptoms of ‘resignation syndrome’ are refusing food and water, and do not come out of their rooms, as they withdraw from social contact of any sort.

“Manus is reaching a new crisis point,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The suicide attempts and constant level of self-harm is creating an intolerable situation for the refugees themselves who are left to struggle to deal with the daily toll inside the compounds on Manus.

The tensions in the refugee compounds across Manus are reaching breaking point as the refugee population struggles to cope.

“Every one of us fears that we are reaching breaking point. It’s like that in every compound,” one of the Manus refugees told the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Rather than ramping up the political rhetoric, in his effort to curry support to repeal the Medevac bill, Peter Dutton should be getting people who need medical help off Manus Island and Nauru. While Dutton peddles more myths about refugees declining resettlement in the US, he is wilfully ignoring those who need urgent help,” said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713.

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