Over 1100 doctors and health professionals call for release of refugees and asylum seekers from detention

| April 2, 2020 | Reply

A letter signed by 1183 health care professionals has been sent to the Minister of Home Affairs calling for the release of asylum seekers and refugees from detention centres and hotels that are holding them.

The letter points out that detention centres and the alternate places of detention are high risk environments.

There have already been a number of coronavirus scares inside the detention centres. Two refugees with coronavirus symptoms were isolated yesterday (1/4/2020) at the Kangaroo Point Motel in Brisbane, the same site where a Serco guard tested positive for the virus in March. There are now around 110 detainees in overcrowded conditions in the Kangaroo Point hotel in Brisbane.

It is just the latest incident that indicates that detention centres and hotels, like prisons, are a ticking time bomb.

Floor markers placed only 65 cm apart at Kangaroo Point motel

It is impossible to practice any social distancing measures inside the detention centres or hotels. At Kangaroo Point the floor markers indicating the distance for people in the queue for meals are only 65 centimetres apart (photo at right), and people queue on both sides of the corridor. The conditions in the meal room violates government rules of activities, area and numbers allowed (see photo below) indoors.

Fifteen detainees from Fraser compound at the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation have also written to the Prime Minister.

The letter comes as reports, highlighting the risk of prison conditions, indicate there are 66 prisoners in isolation in NSW jails after showing signs of coronavirus infection.

Meal room at Kangaroo Point motel in Brisbane

There is overwhelming recognition that people with underlying medical conditions are particularly at risk from coronavirus, yet many of those being held in detention and the hotels are the refugees brought to Australia for medical treatment for conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney and heart conditions.

Almost forty-thousand people have signed a change.org petition calling for the release of refugees and asylum seekers from detention.

“Urgent action from the government is needed to ensure everyone in the Australian community is safe,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition, “No-one should be left behind. The people in immigration detention are at risk; they must be released.”

The government’s coronavirus benefits must be extended to the thousands of people seeking asylum who are living in the community without access to financial support and Medicare who will need support to maintain public health requirements like self-isolation.

All those on bridging visas need access to income support as well as Medicare and medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

This year, the decades-old tradition of Palm Sunday rallies will be maintained online.

People will be doing photo actions and posting to social media using hashtags #freetherefugees and #justice4refugees

Photos will be collated on the Palm Sunday rally page at https://www.facebook.com/PalmSundayRallySydney

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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Category: Press releases

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