SYDNEY: The chief doctor at an Australian offshore detention centre was removed on Wednesday for breaching rules, her employer said, as Canberra sought to stem criticism of conditions at a deeply controversial immigration camp on Nauru.
It is the second time a top doctor contracted by Australia to provide healthcare at a camp on the Pacific island of Nauru has abruptly left the post.
It also comes after Medecins Sans Frontieres was ordered by Nauru to cease its mental health treatment earlier this month as the charity warned of a health crisis among child refugees held there.
The circumstances surrounding the doctor’s removal and deportation were unclear but national broadcaster ABC reported Narau may have suspected her of trying to alert media about the health of her patients.
Naming the doctor as Nicole Montana, ABC said she was arrested by Nauru police late Tuesday after taking a photo of a child she was treating, a breach of rules at the camp. Her predecessor was abruptly deported after a dispute with the government over medical transfers.
International Health and Medical Services, the company that employed the doctor, confirmed to AFP she was “stood down for a breach of Regional Processing Centre rules” but did not elaborate on what the transgression was.
Australia sends asylum-seekers who try to reach the country by boat to remote Pacific facilities such as on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, although the latter camp was shuttered late last year after a local court ruling.
A recent visit by AFP to the Nauru camp revealed deep desperation among detainees and families living with the unbearable cloud of suicide attempts by their wives and daughters.
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday the health situation of the asylum-seekers and refugees was “collapsing”.
The Australian government refused to weigh in on Montana’s sacking, saying it was “a matter for the government of Nauru” and her employer.
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018