Nauru government evicts Médecins Sans Frontières from the island

The Nauru government has ended the role of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders on the island.

MSF emailed various clients today Saturday, 6 October informing them that all MSF services finish today – email pasted below.

According to the MSF web site, the humanitarian association has only operated on the island since late 2017: “In agreement with the Ministry of Health, we started providing ‘one door for all’ psychological and psychiatric services at the end of 2017.”

The end of MSF will add enormously to the distress among asylum seekers and refugees on the island. IHMS, the government contracted medical services provider, is stretched to breaking point.

The end of MSF comes in the aftermath of Federal Court decisions ordering the Australian government to bring sick refugees to Australia for medical assistance that is not available on Nauru.

The Nauruan government has gone into hyperdrive to try and prevent sick refugees being sent off the island for medical help.

In September, the government cancelled the visa of Dr Christopher Jones, the senior medical officer for International Health and Medical Services(IHMS), because they believed he was assisting refugees with legal cases.

During the Pacific Island Forum, the Nauru government thwarted Federal Court orders by preventing an air ambulance landing on the island.

In recent days, the Nauru government has also declared that anyone attempting suicide is liable to arrest. An Iranian refugee last weekend was handcuffed and arrested by eight Nauruan police after they were told that the refugee was threatening suicide.

Sick refugees have been ordered out of the RON hospital.

This week, a senior barrister, Geoffrey Watson SC, told the ABC that the Australian government has lost control over off-shore processing.

“No doubt the action against MSF is because they are perceived by the Nauraun government to be assisting refugees in the current medical emergency that has engulfed the offshore prison,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The offshore detention monster created by Australia is indeed out-of-control. The deliberate distress of five years of offshore detention has created the medical emergency that we are currently witnessing. The deliberate harm has created an humanitarian disaster.

“It is up to the government to evacuate Nauru and Manus Island, and bring all asylum seekers and refugees to Australia.”

Rallies calling for “Kids Off, Everyone Off, Close Nauru, Close Manus” will be held in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday 27 October.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

Message from MSF:

Dear MSF client,

We regret to inform you that the Minister Of Health has notified us that MSF services are no longer required on the island and therefore all of our mental health activities in Nauru must stop, effective today, Saturday, 6th of October.

As a consequence, we are suspending our activities as we gather more information from the Ministry of Health on the rationale for this decision and more clarity on the alternative plans of mental health provisions on the island.

We know this sudden news may be very difficult to hear and we deeply regret any challenges that this presents to you, all of our patients, and to the community. Please refer to this phone number and email should you need further information:

+61 415 5XX XXX

Sincerely, MSF Nauru Project

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