The international medical aid organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres has been abruptly ordered off the Pacific island of Nauru where it was providing mental health services to asylum seekers detained by Australian authorities.
Nauru is home to a large Australian refugee processing centre that has been the centre of intense political scrutiny in recent years, with the indefinite detention of families and reports of substandard facilities leading Amnesty International to label it a “horror”.
The Nauruan government informed the MSF representatives last Friday that their services were no longer required, giving them just 24 hours to vacate the premises. MSF says that it is “deeply concerned” for the wellbeing of detainees in the facility, and called the decision to terminate the contract “grossly irresponsible”.
On Thursday the organisation issued a forceful statement calling for all refugees to be immediately evacuated from the island. “[There is] nothing humanitarian about saving people from sea only to leave them in an open-air prison”, the organisation said.
At least 78 patients on Nauru had considered or attempted suicide or self harm, according to MSF representatives.
The Nauruan government hit back on Friday, arguing that MSF had come to Nauru under the guise of health care only to engage in “political activism”.
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