Catholic leaders have urged the Morrison Government not to overturn the medevac law and to find a humane solution to the plight of asylum-seekers and refugees. Source: Catholic Religious Australia.
Catholic leaders, including Catholic Religious Australia Council members, formed a delegation with the Catholic Alliance for People Seeking Asylum (CAPSA) to travel to Papua New Guinea recently to see firsthand the situation of people seeking asylum.
The delegation visited Bomana, a Port Moresby prison complex, where the men held in detention are denied visitors, phones, access to lawyers and have minimal rations each day. The distress is so severe that many have been placed in the psychiatric ward at a local hospital. Some have lost hope as their claims for asylum have been rejected; or they are waiting for resettlement or medical evacuation but with no definite date.
Mary-Clare Holland OP, a CRA council member and Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Eastern Australia and the Solomon Islands, was part of the delegation.
“What’s their future? Where’s their hope?” she asked.
“Visiting a hospital, a man called out, ‘Please help me.’ I encouraged him to eat but he had lost the will to live. I felt shattered.”
Fr Tom McDonough CP, provincial of the Passionist Fathers, was also a member of the delegation.
“Asylum-seekers and refugees are suffering in detention. Medical facilities are grossly inadequate to deal with their physical and mental health. That’s why the Medevac Bill must remain,” he said.
“The Medevac Bill simply provides urgent medical assistance; it is not a resettlement plan. It applies only to people still in PNG and Nauru, whose numbers are declining.”
CRA urged the Australian Government to retain the medevac legislation and find a pathway forward for those who are not currently considered refugees and are detained. One such pathway is resettlement in New Zealand.