Thursday 18 January 2018

Australia to fly Somali refugee from Nauru for abortion

The 23-year-old Somali refugee claims she was raped in Nauru
The 23-year-old Somali refugee claims she was raped in Nauru

A Somali refugee who alleged she was raped in Nauru will be flown to Australia for a second time to potentially have an abortion, the Australian government has said.

The announcement comes a day after the United Nations' human rights agency demanded she get another opportunity to have her 15-week pregnancy terminated.

The case of the 23-year-old woman, known by the pseudonym Abyan, has amplified criticism of the Australian government's policy of refusing to allow asylum seekers who arrive by boat to settle in Australia under any circumstances.

Asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australian shores are transferred to Australia-run immigration detention camps in the impoverished Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Australia flew Abyan 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) to Sydney for an abortion on October 11, but she returned five days later still pregnant. The government said she had changed her mind.

Abyan said in a statement from Nauru that she had not changed her mind, but had been denied an interpreter and counselling. Abortion is illegal in Nauru.

Critics argue that she should have been given more time in Australia.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he was concerned that 240 asylum seekers who flew to Australia for medical treatment then got court injunctions preventing their return to Nauru.

Mr Dutton said that Abyan would return to Australia to consult a doctor and receive mental health support, but would not say when.

He told Sky News: "She will travel to Australia and will seek some expert assistance from medical staff in Australia."

Mr Dutton said Australia was not prompted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call on Tuesday for Australia and Nauru to "urgently provide a decent option for Abyan ... to obtain adequate mental and physical care and to terminate her pregnancy if she desires".

"These plans have been in the making for some days," he said.

Press Association

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