Politics

Another Asylum Seeker Has Died On Manus Island

The man had known mental health issues, according to refugee advocates.

Manus Island

Another asylum seeker has died on Manus Island. Advocates from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre said the Rohingya man was known to them, and had known physical and mental health issues.

It’s believed the man, who had been on Manus for around five years, died after jumping from a moving vehicle.

“Witnesses report seeing the man come out of a vehicle, hit the road and die from his injuries at the scene,” the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre [ASRC] said in a statement.

Director of advocacy and campaigns at the ASRC, Jana Fovero, met the man last year. She told Junkee he was “really unwell” at the time, and described his death as “avoidable”.

“He had pinned all of his hopes on [the refugee swap deal with the US], but it’s a very slow moving beast,” she said.

“I was on Manus last year and I was shocked at what I saw. I came away thinking, ‘I can’t believe more people haven’t died’, and here we are.”

Founder of Doctors 4 Refugees Dr Barrie Phatarfod told Junkee said the organisation had been pleading with the government to bring him to Australia for treatment since March 2017.

She said the man had developed psychosis and had been suffering from frequent epileptic seizures for years. 

“He was on a shortlist of six or seven who we had grave concerns for,” she told Junkee.

A representative for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees described the death as highly regrettable, saying responsibility rests with the Australian government.

“With the passage of too many years and the withdrawal or reduction of essential services, the already critical situation for refugees most in need continues to deteriorate,” said Nai Jit Lam, UNHCR’s Deputy Regional Representative in Canberra. “Australia’s responsibility for those who have sought its protection remains unchanged. Our thoughts and condolences are with the man’s family today.”

Greens refugee spokersperson Senator Nick McKim placed blame for the man’s death on the Coalition government and the Labor party.

“This man sought Australia’s help, and suffered years of deprivation for daring to ask,” he said in a statement. “He faced the impossible choice of indefinite detention, or returning to face ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.” This is a humanitarian crisis. The men, women and children detained on Manus Island and Nauru must be evacuated to Australia now.”

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed it is aware of the death.

If you’d like to talk about any issues with your mental health and options getting long-term help, you can reach Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.