26 Nov 2019

Nauru refugees refuse Taiwan medical transfers

10:43 am on 26 November 2019

Sick refugees detained by Australia on Nauru have been refusing medical transfers to Taiwan.

The barren and bankrupt island state of the Republic of Nauru awaits the arrival of refugees, 11 September 2001. Just 25 square kilometres, Nauru has been devastated by phosphate mining which once made the Micronesians the second wealthiest people per capita on earth. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD

Nauru. Photo: AFP

In September 2017, Taiwan agreed to take refugees for treatment that could not be provided on Nauru.

The deal enabled the Australian government to provide medical care without bringing refugees to Australia, where some have won court orders preventing their return to Nauru.

Documents obtained by Buzzfeed from a secretive committee within the Australian government show 33 had gone to Taiwan by the end of July this year, while 33 had refused to go.

Some refugees on Nauru spoken to by Buzzfeed said their treatment in Taiwan failed to resolve their problems.

This and a lack of translation services had convinced others not to go.

The Taiwan deal could be a factor in government efforts to repeal controversial medevac laws, which ease medical transfers from offshore detention to Australia.

With the Senate due to consider the government's repeal bill on Wednesday, the Taiwan deal could convince the Tasmanian senator who is expected to have the deciding vote, to back repeal.