Australia to not move pregnant asylum-seekers from Nauru

Canberra, Oct 15 (IANS) Pregnant asylum-seekers in Australia’s Nauru migrant camp will not be allowed to come into Australia, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday.

Dutton’s announcement comes after rights groups said some pregnant women on the island were refusing medical treatment.

Dutton said some asylum-seekers were using “blackmail” to come to Australia, BBC reported.

Australia had given A$26 m to Nauru’s hospitals for treatment on the Pacific island, he said.

A Somali woman, who became pregnant after allegedly being raped on Nauru, arrived in Australia earlier this week.

The woman, 23, had been asking for weeks to be transferred from Nauru, part of Australia’s offshore network housing people seeking asylum, to Australia so she could have an abortion.

Abortion is illegal in the tiny island nation of Nauru, except where the mother’s life is at risk.

In Thursday’s interview, Dutton said the Australian government would not “be taken for mugs”.

“If people believe that they’re going to somehow try and blackmail us into an outcome to come to Australia by saying we’re not going to have medical assistance and therefore we put our babies at risk – that’s a judgement for people to make… But we’re not going to bend to that pressure.

The Refugee Action Coalition group earlier expressed concerns for seven pregnant women, saying Nauru was not equipped to deal with complicated births, Australia’s ABC broadcaster reported.

Under Australia’s tough asylum policy, any irregular migrants trying to reach the country by boat are intercepted and held in centres on Nauru and Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.

The government says this deters people-traffickers but there has been been criticism of the conditions at the camps.

In September, a report by the senate committee found conditions on Nauru were not “appropriate or safe”. It said allegations of rape and abuse should be investigated.

Australia’s top court is currently reviewing the legality of the centres.

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