A small group of men stand in a hotel hallway, holding handmade signs asking 'Free us before COVID19 kills us'. One man creates heart symbol with his hands.

Concerns for detainees as Mantra employee tests positive for COVID-19

Amnesty International Australia is seriously concerned for the health of refugees held in so-called alternative places of detention (APODs), after the news that an employee of the Mantra Bell Preston in Melbourne has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Months ago, Amnesty, medical experts such as Professor David Isaacs and other civil society organisations warned that keeping people in detention at places like Mantra where social distancing is impossible, was a ticking time bomb,” Amnesty International Australia Refugee Advisor, Dr Graham Thom, said.

Months ago, Amnesty, medical experts such as Professor David Isaacs and other civil society organisations warned that keeping people in detention at places like Mantra where social distancing is impossible, was a ticking time bomb.

Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Advisor, Dr Graham Thom

“The people being held in these places were brought to Australia because they needed urgent medical help. To leave them in a situation where their already fragile health is in more danger is unconscionable.

“This situation would never have arisen if our broken offshore detention regime valued basic human rights. It’s the bitterest of ironies that this crisis has occurred as we mark the seventh anniversary of offshore detention on the 19th of July. It’s well overdue that we find a solution to what was only ever meant to be a temporary measure. 

“The pandemic is a huge challenge for everyone – many of us have experienced lockdowns and quarantine and how challenging that can be for mental health. We can only imagine what the past seven years have done to the mental health of the people still stuck in offshore detention and in APODs. We must be sure that all groups in society, and those people in our government’s care are not cruelled for simply asking for Australia’s help.”

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