GENEVA / AUSTRALIA OFFSHORE PROCESSING

12-Oct-2018 00:02:33
Australia should end its offshore processing policy on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea amid reports of widespread acute mental distress and attempted suicide by children and young adults, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today in Geneva. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / AUSTRALIA OFFSHORE PROCESSING
TRT: 2:18
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 12 OCTOBER 2018 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Wide shot, press room, podium
3. Close up, journalist
4. Close up, journalists, podium in background
5. Medium shot, journalists.
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Stubberfield, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“This policy has failed on a number of measures. It’s failed to protect refugees, it’s failed to provide even for their most basic needs throughout a period that now exceeds five years. And it’s failed to provide solutions for a substantial number that is still waiting and can clearly no longer afford to wait.”
7. Close up, press release
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Stubberfield, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR):
“Our own consultant medical experts in 2016 found a cumulative prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD in both Papua New Guinea and Nauru, to be well above 80 per cent, and the situation has deteriorated since then. So, there are very serious needs that are not being met. There’s no longer time for the Government of Australia to delay or find other solutions, and it’s for that reason that we’re asking people be evacuated today.”
9. Med shot, journalists
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Stubberfield, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR): “In one of the various cases brought to our attention during September, a suicidal pre-teenage girl remains in Nauru despite doctors’ advice to the contrary. Medical records seen by UNHCR staff show she first doused herself in petrol, before attempting to set herself alight and pulling chunks of hair from her head.”
11. Close up, journalists
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Stubberfield, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR): “Historically, there have been a number of motivations and, I suppose, reasons given for the policy; principally that they’re eager to deter people from arriving - refugees and asylum-seekers - from arriving to Australia by sea. What we’ve seen over a period of time is that the level of human suffering that’s really unparalleled can’t justify – or can’t be justified - by those motivations.”
13. Close up, journalists
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Catherine Stubberfield, Spokesperson, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR): “Ultimately, responsibility lies with Australia for those who have sought its protection. As we mentioned, this is a system designed, financed, managed by Australia, and it’s Australia which must be accountable for the full gamut of those consequences.”
15. Close up, journalist
16. Close up, camera monitor
17. Close up, journalists
18. Close up, journalists in profile
19. Med shot, podium
STORYLINE
Australia should end its offshore processing policy on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea amid reports of widespread acute mental distress and attempted suicide by children and young adults, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today in Geneva.

UNHCR spokesperson Catherine Stubblefield told journalists today (12 Oct) that “in one of the various cases brought to our attention during September, a suicidal pre-teenage girl remains in Nauru despite doctors’ advice to the contrary,” adding that “medical records seen by UNHCR staff show she first doused herself in petrol, before attempting to set herself alight and pulling chunks of hair from her head.”

According to UNHCR, more than 1,400 people are still being held on both islands, which have hosted Australia-bound migrants and asylum-seekers since 2013.

Its appeal to the Australian authorities echoes a warning from non-governmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which pulled out of Nauru last week, at the request of the island’s authorities.

In the last 11 months on Nauru, according to MSF, at least 78 people attempted suicide, had suicidal thoughts or self-harmed.

Amid a “collapsing health situation”, UNHCR agency explained that around 500 people have been returned to Australia on medical grounds, but this is “significantly lower” than all those with acute needs.

There have been no returns from Papua New Guinea to Australia this year, the UN agency said, despite “several instances” of self-harm or attempted suicide there in the past month.

In addition, a number of people with acute physical and mental needs remain untreated, UNHCR added.

Stubblefield said “this policy has failed on a number of measures. It’s failed to protect refugees, it’s failed to provide even for their most basic needs throughout a period that now exceeds five years. And it’s failed to provide solutions for a substantial number that is still waiting and can clearly no longer afford to wait.”

The UNHCR official reported that of the 12 people who have died since Australia implemented its offshore processing policy, half were confirmed or suspected suicides. The mental health of those being held on the islands was worsening, she added.

Stubberfield also said “our own consultant medical experts in 2016 found a cumulative prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in both Papua New Guinea and Nauru, to be well above 80 per cent, and the situation has deteriorated since then.”

She added “so, there are very serious needs that are not being met. There’s no longer time for the Government of Australia to delay or find other solutions, and it’s for that reason that we’re asking people be evacuated today.”

Among UNHCR’s concerns is the lack of basic services available to vulnerable migrants and asylum-seekers.

Only “limited” healthcare is provided on both islands by sub-contractors on hire from the Australian Government, Stubberfield said, describing the service as “under-resourced and under-staffed”.

She said “historically, there have been a number of motivations and, I suppose, reasons given for the policy,” she said, “principally that they’re eager to deter people from arriving - refugees and asylum-seekers - from arriving to Australia by sea. What we’ve seen over a period of time is that the level of human suffering that’s really unparalleled can’t justify – or can’t be justified - by those motivations.”

Highlighting the case of a young Iranian man who took his life in June after spending “most of his adult life” in offshore processing, the UNHCR official underscored Australia’s obligations to those under its care.

Stubberfield said “ultimately, responsibility lies with Australia for those who have sought its protection,” adding that “as we mentioned, this is a system designed, financed, managed by Australia, and it’s Australia which must be accountable for the full gamut of those consequences.”
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