Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders calls on Papua New Guinea (PNG) authorities to give its team access to the asylum seekers and refugees at their two current locations (Hillside Haus and West Lorengau Transit Centres), to assess their conditions and provide essential medical care as appropriate.
On Friday 24 November, PNG police removed the refugees and asylum seekers who remained inside the officially-closed Regional Processing Centre (RPC), in which hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers were still living. On Sunday 19 November, MSF had received written authorisation to assess medical conditions inside the RPC from PNG authorities. Accordingly, a team composed of two doctors and a water and sanitation specialist were on standby on Manus Island since Wednesday 22 November. However, despite the authorisation, the team were never granted access by the time the 328 remaining men in the centre were removed and sent to the two alternative Transit Centres on Friday. MSF has not been granted access to the Transit Centres either.
Dr Stewart Condon, member of the MSF team who travelled to Manus and President of MSF-Australia, said: “As a humanitarian and medical professional, I am very concerned by the fate of the refugees and people seeking asylum in Manus Island’s Transit Centres. They reportedly have had limited access to food and water for the last three weeks. Some of them have been living in detention for four years with likely impact on their mental health.
“On Thursday 23 November, we met one man who was later taken by ambulance from the RPC to Lorengau General Hospital. He appeared to be dehydrated, malnourished and showing signs of severe depression, but we were not able to speak with him for any length of time. We are following up his progress.
“MSF remains concerned about whether the medical and psychological needs of the men are being met, and whether the local structures have the capacity to care for them. The situation here is volatile and the MSF team remains on standby to give any medical humanitarian support we can.
“We call on the authorities to grant MSF, an independent medical humanitarian organisation, access to the refugees and asylum seekers inside the Transit Centres to assess their medical conditions.”