OCEANIA/PAPUA NEW GUINEA - Church appeal: "Manus refugees await freedom"

Thursday, 3 January 2019 refugees   violence   human rights   human dignity   freedom  

Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - "The current situation of the almost 500 refugees on Manus island - which hosts the asylum seekers rejected by Australia - causes us great suffering. The refugees were brought back to Manus island for the duration of the APEC summit. They were in different places in Port Moresby, most of them were here to receive medical treatment. And while Christmas was being celebrated here, it was just another night of detention on Manus Island. There were at least three cases of attempted suicide": this is the complaint sent to Agenzia Fides by Salesian Fr. Ambrose Pereira, Secretary for Social Communications at the Episcopal Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
"These people have been away from their families for the sixth Christmas and most of them survive thanks to medicines, mostly anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, antipsychotics", says the priest, with serious consequences of taking such drugs for a long time and without a prescription.
"This is not the way to treat human beings: it is about abuse and neglect", he denounces. "The obvious answer to almost all health problems is to give them freedom and to reduce the damage caused by stress, trauma, overcrowding and malnutrition during their detention, as highlighted by numerous reports", explains Fr. Pereira. "Refugees are waiting for the day they are released, and we hope that 2019 will bring good news for them", he concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 3/1/2019)