Australia Gives Asylum Seeker Baby Temporary Stay

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Follows more than a week of protest

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, February 22, 2016) – A deal has been reached in Australia to keep an asylum seeker baby in Queensland, at least temporarily.

The agreement followed more than a week of protests at a Brisbane hospital where she was being treated after being injured in immigration detention on Nauru.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said that after discharge, baby Asha would be moved to community detention.

A refugee advocate and the spokesperson for the family, Natasha Butcher, said the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and Mr Dutton had bowed to public pressure.

"This week has been stressful. The situation has been on a knife-edige. Regardless of what Mr Dutton would have you believe. This is a complete reversal of everything he was saying about this family, only a week ago."

However the minister indicated that the asylum seeker baby would still end up being returned to Nauru.

More than a week of protests about one-year-old Asha's fate have been held outside the hospital, and doctors had been refusing to release her until a safe home was found.

Mr Dutton said that despite the move, Asha's family would not receive special treatment.

"The advice I've received is that the doctors from the hospital have said that the baby's treatment has now concluded, and that they would be happy for the baby to go out into community detention. as I say, that's what we've proposed all along."

"But at some point," Mr Dutton qualified, "if people have matters finalised in Australia, then they will be returning to Nauru."

The minister said Asha would be discharged within 24 hours.


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