Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) welcomes the announcement that refugees being held under Australia’s harmful policy regime will be allowed to resettle in New Zealand.
“This announcement provides hope and a chance for refugees to rebuild their lives after many years of limbo and suffering, both offshore and here in Australia,” said Simon Eccleshall, Director of Programs at MSF Australia.
“We thank the NZ Government for their ongoing commitment to provide resettlement and a future for these refugees, and welcome that the Australian Government has finally accepted this deal.”
The deal will see 450 people resettled over three years, leaving hundreds of others held offshore or in hotels in Australia without a resettlement pathway. The new deal also excludes refugees and asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea, who were also caught up in Australia’s offshore processing regime.
“The new deal doesn’t go far enough, and is long overdue for refugees who have spent almost nine years in detention, where many continue to suffer devastating mental health impacts.”
MSF is calling for people to be released from detention while they wait for resettlement, and for the Australian Government to commit to addressing all refugees’ medical needs as a priority.
MSF worked for 10 months on Nauru providing mental healthcare, and saw firsthand the devastating impact of Australia’s policies. The severity of mental health illness among MSF patients in Nauru was amongst the worst MSF has ever seen (globally), including in projects providing care for victims of torture. MSF’s asylum seeker and refugee patients on Nauru were an extremely vulnerable group, with close to one-third having attempted suicide. MSF documented its evidence, findings and conclusions from its work on Nauru in the publication Indefinite Despair.