Standoff ends between doctors and Australian government

AP News
Posted: Feb 21, 2016 7:44 PM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A 1-year-old baby of an asylum-seeking family from Nepal was discharged from an Australian hospital on Monday, ending a 10-day standoff between medical staff and the government over whether she should be sent back with her parents to the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

Australian-born baby Asha was flown from an Australia-run immigration camp on Nauru 3,300 kilometers (2,100 miles) to a hospital in the Australian city of Brisbane in late January for treatment of scalding burns from hot water.

She was treated at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital, but doctors said on Feb. 12 that they would not discharge her if she was to be immediately sent back to Nauru.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said Monday that the baby had been released from the hospital to live temporarily with her parents in private rental accommodation paid for by the government. Dutton said they were in community detention, which usually means asylum seekers are able to move freely in the community but must reside at a designated address every night.

The government still intends to send the family back to Nauru after a court hears their challenge against deportation, Dutton said.

"We are not going to allow the message to get out that people can come to Nauru, come to Australia for medical assistance, and that will be their ticket out into Australian society — that is not going to happen," Dutton told Nine Network television.

The family is among 267 asylum seekers facing deportation to Nauru after coming to Australia for medical treatment or to support a sick relative. The family's name has not been released.

Hundreds of protesters calling for Australia to accept these asylum seekers have maintained a vigil outside the hospital since the doctors announced they would not send Asha back to Nauru.

Australia has all but stopped asylum seekers from the Middle East and Asia attempting to reach Australian shores on boats from Indonesia in the past three years by refusing to allow boat arrivals to ever settle in Australia. They are sent to immigration camps on Nauru and Australia's closest neighbor, Papua New Guinea.