There are currently around 65 people seeking asylum being held in detention across Melbourne in the Mantra Hotel in Preston, MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Centre) and at the Broadmeadows detention centre. These people were transported from offshore detention centres to Australia for medical care, many severely ill. However, after 5 months most are yet to receive this. 

The treatment these people have faced while detained in our city is inhumane. In the Mantra Hotel, they are trapped inside 24/7 in cramped conditions. There is limited access to basic hygiene products and people are under constant guard. Despite many of the people being detained having complex pre-existing medical conditions, there is no ability for them to socially distance or protect themselves from infection. They are not provided with any medical care and also have not breathed fresh air in months. Some have been previously detained in Australian offshore detention centres for up to seven years. 

“They don’t tell us anything, they don’t give us any hope, they have created this game in order to break our hearts, they don’t want to do anything for us,” said Moz, a person seeking asylum detained in the Mantra hotel.

 

Preston Mantra protest: Refugee Action Collective call for release ...

 

And just recently, a staff member at the Mantra Bell City tested positive for the COVID19. 

Detention advocates, health professionals and residents have been warning of the risks of COVID-19 to the lives of detainees and the wider community but it seems their calls have fallen on deaf ears with this now the second positive COVID-19 test result from a staff member working at an APOD. There are no transparent protocols for physical distancing or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for staff and no wide testing or quarantine measures implemented after a confirmed case. The refugees continue to be forced to live in crowded, unventilated spaces where they cannot observe physical distancing from each other or the 60-70 guards and service staff they are exposed to on daily rotation.

“The staff made us feel humiliated by telling us to wash our hands and practise distancing when we have no control over close contact with staff coming and going.”

How can they say this when the staff don’t practise physical distancing and we are kept in crowded, narrow places. We cannot even open windows, there is little sunlight and no fresh air and we cannot physically distance from each other” said Moz. 

The people being detained came to Australia to live in peace, care for their families and live free from danger. Our government is choosing to deny these people their right and safety. It is totally unacceptable that this systematic abuse of refugees - innocent people seeking a better life - is happening in our community. It’s the Federal Government’s responsibility to keep people safe during this health crisis, including refugees in detention. People must be released for their health and safety.

Hear directly from the refugees on social media: 

 

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Please join the growing chorus of voices demanding a safe and humane response to the unfolding health crisis faced by people in detention right now. 

To get involved with the campaigns, please reach out to Northsiders with Refugees or Northside Youth with Refugees

To see how else you can take action and ensure refugee justice for people seeking asylum, check out our Community Action tab!