Standing With Manus’ Refugees After Medevac

19 March 2020

Topics: Asylum Canada detention Manus refugees

In February 2019, Act for Peace staff members Caz Coleman and Sharon Edington visited Manus Island for a program scoping visit to meet with Act for Peace's local partners on the ground, the Manus Provincial Council of Churches (MPCC), the local community members and the refugee men. From those conversations, it became clear that health is biggest issue. There are limited health services, not just for the refugees, but for the local population as well. These images show the poor state of the public system on Manus Island. Photo credit: Sharon Edington
With your generous support, Act for Peace have not forgotten the ex-Manus refugee men remaining in Port Moresby after the Medivac laws were repealed. Medevac put control of medical treatment for seriously unwell refugees in the hands of doctors, and close to 200 people were able to get the medical care they needed under this law. 

Though our Government has turned their backs once again, we want to share with you some good news about what our local partner has been able to achieve for men in Papua New Guinea.

Thanks to you, our partners in Port Moresby supported refugees and asylum seekers who were previously on Manus Island; providing urgent and lifesaving assistance to individuals fleeing conflict and persecution.

Here’s how you helped improve their lives.      

Medical care in PNG and Medivac support to Australia: you ensured that some of the world’s most vulnerable people had access to health services.

Our partner in Port Moresby helps very sick men to access healthcare in PNG. And while the Medivac legislation was in place, they also helped the men obtain their medical records and information from local service providers, and sent that to our partner in Australia to work on Medevac applications.  

Resettlement support to a safe third country: thanks to you, our partner in PNG helped refugee and asylum seeker men to prepare their applications to be resettled to Canada.

Your support has already made it possible to sponsor three of the men to be resettled to Canada as part of their humanitarian intake. And through your generous gifts, Act for Peace have partnered with a Canadian organisation to ensure these men are welcomed and integrated in their first year of settlement.

Financial support: the men still living in Port Moresby were able to access urgently needed funds.  And through your support, our local partners were on the ground working with them to understand their existing skill sets, and to improve their confidence after six years out of the workforce.  

Emotional and moral support: many still living in Port Moresby also needed to access a safe place to go where staff will listen to their needs and concerns. This vital service helped reduce people’s feelings of isolation and loneliness and feel more confident about the future.   

While these services have been critical in providing people with the support they need to maintain their health and dignity, we’re also working with the awareness that the PNG and Australian governments must still fulfil their responsibilities to the men. 

These responsibilities extend to ensuring the men have access to the services they need to live in dignity and safety, and are suitably resettled, including bringing them to Australia where appropriate.

Through your support, we’ll keep on standing alongside the men while they continue to fight for their rights and freedom. There is still a long way to go for many of them to reach safety, but with your help, and the hard work of our partners, we have been able to provide some much needed support to them on this journey. 

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Manus Island's refugee detention centre. photo credit: Al Jazeera