16 Aug 2006

Nauru asks Australia to evacuate sick Iraqi refugee

2:08 pm on 16 August 2006

The Nauru Government has called on Australia to evacuate an Iraqi refugee who is mentally unwell.

The Age newspaper reports that the foreign minister, David Adeang, had written to Australia's immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, saying health workers are gravely concerned about the well being of Muhammad Faisal.

Mr Faisal, who has refugee status but has failed to get a clearance from the Australian security organisation, ASIO, has been on Nauru for nearly five years.

Last night, a spokesman for Ms Vanstone confirmed a letter had been received from Mr Adeang and said options were being considered.

Mr Adeang says that health workers had placed the man on 24-hour watch because of fears that he was suicidal.

The only other inmate in the Nauru detention camps, Mohammad Sagar, who is also an Iraqi, is also reported to be suffering depression and anxiety attacks.

Meanwhile, the Australian opposition Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle, says the Prime Minister, John Howard, needs to intervene to bring the two detainees to Australia.

Ms Nettle says the Prime Minister should cut through the ASIO red tape and allow these men to come to Australia to receive the medical attention they need.