The detention of refugees on Manus Island has become "untenable and even absurd", the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea says.
General secretary of the conference Giorgio Licini has called for a dignified ending to Australia's indefinite detention of 600 men in PNG, as the Australian parliament prepares to vote on the Urgent Medical Treatment Bill.
The bill would ease the process by which sick refugees are approved for medical evacuation to Australia.
"It is not for us to suggest the Australian people representatives on how to vote on this specific instance," Fr Licini said.
"We simply notice that the off-shore processing policy established by the Kevin Rudd government in 2013 has now become untenable and even absurd. First of all, after six years almost six hundred men still remain in Manus and PNG alone. Something must have gone terribly wrong," he said.
"Furthermore, the greatest mistake in an initiative clearly conceived as a deterrence strategy against new boats irregularly reaching Australia, has been that of detaining the same individuals since the early hour.
"Should a rotation have been applied at least every two or three years, the deterrence purpose would have been preserved, and the dire consequences we now observe would have been avoided."
Fr Licini said the general public in Australia and PNG might be unaware of the sharp decline in the health conditions of the detainees, and their loss of mental stability.
Australia can no longer deny the refugees immediate access to proper medical attention and resettlement in a third, safe country, he said.
The tortured people on Manus & Nauru are desperately watching the Australian politicians, hoping they’ll make a humane decision this time about the medical bill. Keep them in your mind and heart when you vote. These people have lost enough over the past six years.#BackTheBill— Behrouz Boochani (@BehrouzBoochani) February 9, 2019
"How is it that we allowed healthy and enthusiastic young people to deteriorate to the point of living on antidepressant and sleeping pills? How is it that in the year 2019 we identify them by a number rather than by their name? How can it be possible that human beings use other human beings for deterrence purposes of whatever sort for an indefinite period of time, regardless of the fact that they may completely go crazy or even die in the process?," Fr Licini asked.
"Sincerely speaking, all this escapes my understanding. Much more if this happens under our eyes in countries like Australia and Papua New Guinea, which are by no means rogue States or war and torture oriented societies. It is unfair and unjustified to blame these young people in mass of inexistent criminal records," he said.
"We renew our appeal to the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea to quietly put a dignified and humble end to this humiliating and sorrowful chapter. Damages can never be completely repaired, but at least contained."