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Life-Saving Action for Refugees in Medical Need Welcomed

Canberra, 13 February 2019

UNHCR Welcomes Life-Saving Action for Refugees in Medical Need


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the action taken by the Parliament of Australia today to address critical medical needs of refugees and asylum-seekers under Australia's 'offshore processing'.

The legislation foresees that upon the recommendation of two treating doctors, those requiring medical treatment that is not available in Papua New Guinea and Nauru will be medically evacuated to Australia. The process required under the law as now passed gives due weight to the professional opinion of independent medical practitioners.

“Ensuring access to adequate medical care for refugees and asylum-seekers is a life-saving, humanitarian act,” said Louise Aubin, Regional Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra.

While the application of these amendments will become clearer in the coming days, it is UNHCR’s hope that refugees and asylum-seekers will receive the urgent medical treatment they need by immediate transfer to Australia under the new legislation. Medical care for all refugees and asylum-seekers should now be prioritized, commensurate to their most fundamental human needs.


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