Protesters have turned out in support of medical staff in Australia, who are refusing to release a baby girl facing repatriation to an offshore immigration detention camp.
She has been treated for serious burns in the city of Brisbane and hospital officials say she won’t be discharged until a “suitable home environment” is found.
“We’ve heard terrible reports about the situation on Nauru for children and for adults. And certainly the doctors are very concerned about what would happen to Asha, if she was released back into detention,” said campaigner Ellen Roberts.
“We’re here today, standing in solidarity, in support with the family and with the doctors and the hospital.”
The detention centre on the South Pacific island of Nauru houses more than 500 people and has been widely criticised for harsh conditions. There are also reports of systemic child abuse.
The Australian government has a policy of sending asylum seekers, who attempt to reach the country by boat, to camps on Nauru, or on Manus island in Papua New Guinea. They are not offered resettlement in Australia.
It says the approach is necessary to stop asylum seekers downing aboard unseaworthy vessels, used by people smugglers to ship them from Indonesia to Australia.
The number of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia is small compared to the influx seen in Europe. But border security is a big political issue in Australia, which is scheduled to hold national elections later in the year.
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