Pregnant refugee at risk in Nauru

Paediatric ward in Nauru

Paediatric ward in Nauru (photo: Greens MP)

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania is calling on the federal government to immediately admit a pregnant refugee on Nauru to an Australian hospital.

According to doctors on the island, the 35-year-old woman from Kuwait is facing life-threatening pregnancy complications and her baby is in breech position. She has a large fibroid or benign tumor on the wall of her uterus and has previously suffered a miscarriage on Nauru.

The Australian government insists the woman must deliver her baby on Nauru, saying there are “comprehensive medical services” on the island.

Since 2015, it has been Australian government policy that asylum seekers and refugees deliver their babies on Nauru. This reduces the potential for refugees to seek an injunction against their removal from Australia once they arrive on the mainland.

In a letter addressed to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, synod social justice officer Jill Ruzbacky urged the government to fulfil its human rights obligations and transport the woman to Australia.

“The Uniting Church in Australia affirms that those who are seeking, or who have been granted, asylum within Australia have the right to receive appropriate medical care without discrimination, regardless of citizenship, visa status, or ability to pay,” the letter read.

“Like all people seeking health care, asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, or under the protection of the Australian government, should be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity.

“We commend this matter to for your immediate action, given the mother is in the 35th week of her pregnancy, to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby.”

Church members are encouraged to write to the minister at or contact their local MP to voice their concerns.

The Australian government’s deal with the US government to resettle some of the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru is set to proceed despite Donald Trump’s executive order over the weekend.

The executive order banned citizens from seven Muslim countries from entering the US. It also put an indefinite freeze on the resettlement of Syrian refugees in America and suspended the country’s entire refugee program for four months.

The ban was met with condemnation from world leaders and the United Nations.  Germanpresident Angela Merkel reportedly phoned Trump to explain the Geneva Convention to the newly inaugurated president.

However, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the Australian government will support Trump’s “strong immigration and border protection policies”.

A number of Christian leaders have also spoken out against the Muslim ban. More than 2,000 religious leaders in the US have signed a letter calling on Trump to open the refugee program to people of all religions.

“We decry derogatory language that has been used about Middle Eastern refugees and our Muslim friends and neighbours,” the signatories said.

“As people of faith, our values call us to welcome the stranger, love our neighbour, and stand with the vulnerable, regardless of their religion.”

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