Refugee dies after being airlifted to Brisbane from Australian-run camp in PNG

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 3:51pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 December, 2016, 3:51pm

A 27-year-old Sudanese male refugee died in a Brisbane hospital after being airlifted with head injuries from an Australia-funded detention center on Papua New Guinea’s northern island of Manus, the Australian government said Saturday.

The man, named Faysal Ishak Ahmed, reportedly collapsed and suffered a head injury on Thursday and received treatment at the detention centre’s clinic. He was then transferred to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Friday.

“The department [of Immigration and Border Protection] is not aware of any suspicious circumstances surrounding the death and expresses its sympathies to his family and friends,” a government statement on the death read.

A statement from Ian Rintoul, a representative of the Sydney-based Refugee Action Coalition, said the campaign group held “grave concerns” for Ahmed’s welfare after announcing his evacuation to Brisbane. He had been held in immigration detention for more than three years, according to the organisation.

The RAC said it was not known whether the emergency is “a result of the head injuries sustained when he collapsed or because of underlying medical conditions that lead to his collapse,” adding that he had suffered numerous blackouts and collapses in recent months.

The RAC also said that just recently 60 fellow refugee detainees held on Manus Island had written a complaint about Ahmed’s medical treatment to the Australian government and the company responsible for providing medical services to refugees on the island.

This latest death of an immigration detainee follows a case in 2014 of 24-year-old Iranian refugee Hamid Khazaei, who died of a bacterial infection after his leg became infected while held at the Manus detention center. Authorities in Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland are carrying out an investigation as to whether he received appropriate treatment and care from the Australian government.

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court handed down a ruling in April saying that Australia’s detention of refugees on Manus Island is illegal, forcing immigration minister Peter Dutton to start proceedings to shutter the camp, although no closing date has been announced.

The RAC says there are 823 asylum seekers detained on Manus Island and approximately 400 more held in a similar camp on the Pacific island nation of Nauru.