6 Oct 2017

Lack of health care could cause more Manus Island deaths - nun

11:19 am on 6 October 2017

The lack of psychiatric care available on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island has raised fear of more deaths when Australia's refugee detention centre is closed at the end of the month.

An image from the the 61st day of protest in the Manus Island detention centre.

An image from the the 61st day of protest in the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: supplied

This week's apparent suicide of Tamil detainee Rajeev Rajendran closely followed that of Iranian refugee Hamed Shamshiripour, both of whom were living in the East Lorengau Transit Centre.

The Brigidine nun Jane Keogh is in Lorengau where she has been trying to help another mentally ill man at the Transit Centre.

Sister Jane Keogh.

Sister Jane Keogh. Photo: Facebook

The detention centre's 700-odd residents are resisting pressure to move to the Transit Centre where Sister Jane said she could find no help for the man.

"People at the Transit Centre said 'look, we're sorry but there is no psychiatric help at that hospital, there's no where on this island, there's no where you can take him, we can't do anything,'" she said.

"When they were in the camp [detention centre] anyone in a psychiatric state had people monitoring them and watching them the whole time. Here [Lorengau] they don't have it.

"They're extremely worried ... because on the 31st of October there are going to be no Australians there at all. So who is going to handle all those people with paranoia?"

In 2016, a United Nations study found Australia's detainees on Manus Island and Nauru had the highest rates of mental illness ever recorded amoung refugee groups.

Meanwhile, detainees continued their peaceful protest action yesterday against the looming closure of the detention centre.

But they were warned the provision of their healthcare services would change.

Water, electricity, telephone and tobacco have already been subject to restrictions as part of efforts to coerce detainees into moving to the Transit Centre.

A note posted in the Manus Island detention centre.

A note posted in the Manus Island detention centre. Photo: Behrouz Boochani

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