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World

Nauru refugees: Doctors urge evacuations amid 'complete despair'

October 11, 2018 4:12 pm

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for the immediate evacuation of all asylum seekers on Pacific nation Nauru, amid a “devastating” mental health crisis.

MSF provided 11 months of care to those housed in an Australian-run detention centre on the tiny island, but was recently ordered by Nauru to leave.

It treated 78 people who had attempted suicide or self-harm during that time.

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Authorities in Nauru and Australia have not responded to MSF’s call.

The Nauru detention centre was set up by Australia in 2013 in a controversial deal to house asylum seekers intercepted while trying to reach Australian shores by boat.

Canberra maintains its policy prevents deaths at sea and discourages people smugglers but the tough stance has been widely criticised.

MSF Australia executive director Paul McPhun said: “This policy should be stopped immediately and should not be replicated by any government.”

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MSF had provided free mental health treatment to both refugees and the Nauruan population. On Sunday, MSF said it had been ordered off the island.

“We are extremely concerned for the ongoing mental health of all our patients on the island including asylum seekers and refugees who remain in a complete state of hopelessness and despair,” Mr McPhun said.

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