I just want to give a bit of an update about how things are in the RPC at this point, and what GFMAN are currently focussing on and doing.
We are currently on day 21 since the food, water and power were shut down in the Manus RPC, and day 19 of GFMAN purchasing/delivering supplies for the men.
The situation in the camp is absolutely dire, and getting more so by the day.
Authorities continue to try to block all access for deliveries of food, medications and other supplies.
Despite this, deliveries are continuing on a regular basis, with the men themselves working incredibly hard in extreme circumstances to support each other and to get the food and other supplies in and distributed.
We are honoured to be able to support them in what they are doing by providing the finances and some logistical support for the food, medications and other supplies they so desperately need.
THANK YOU SO MUCH to the men, to the locals putting themselves at risk to help, and to donors and other supporters who are making this possible.
As deliveries are being actively prevented by authorities, and therefore all have to be done covertly, there are limits to how much can be transported and when. The issue of how to get enough food in remains a big one, so the men are living on food rations meaning they sometimes only have one meal a day. It is keeping them alive but is no substitute for proper, unhindered supply of food and other necessities.
Likewise, the men are having to ration water in the tropical heat.
This week saw the authorities go into the camp and destroy the water tanks holding precious rain water, tip out the rain water being stored in bins, and destroy the well the men had dug.
This, combined with days at a time of no rain, has meant that water shortages have taken on a new level of urgency and harm for the men.
It is an absolute disgrace that the authorities have actively destroyed the men’s water sources and exposed them to further, potentially fatal, harm from illnesses associated with lack of water and with contaminated and unsafe drinking water. They need to immediately reconnect a supply of potable drinking water, or at the very least, stop blocking access for us to deliver sufficient amounts of clean water.
The health of the men in the RPC is at crisis point, with hundreds of the men having either long term chronic conditions which are now lacking treatment resulting in worsening health, or who have developed illnesses because of the conditions they have been experiencing inside the RPC over the past 3 weeks.
GFMAN has been continuing to pay for medications and other medical supplies that we are able to access without a script in PNG, but there are now large numbers of men who need medications that are only available with a doctor’s prescription and whose previous supply of medication has now run out.
This is extremely concerning and dangerous, as not only are serious medical conditions going untreated, but some men are experiencing dangerous withdrawals from medications.
IHMS will not go to the RPC to treat men and the authorities will not allow entry for other doctors. This leaves the only options as either a) moving to the accommodation compounds in town where the men do not feel safe, where there is also not adequate access to food, water and electricity and where they are not confident that they will receive adequate health care anyway, or b) go without their medications and other health care.
These are unacceptable options.
The ASRC volunteer medical team who are providing phone consultations are doing a fantastic job, but it is no substitute for unhindered access to on the ground medical professionals and treatment.
We fully support the AMA in their calls to be granted access to the RPC to assess the health and living conditions of the men, and we further call for there to be unhindered access for medical practitioners to enter the RPC for the purpose of treating the men and prescribing medications.
This week we have received information from IHMS that the men who are living in the town accommodation compounds in Lorengau are to now have free access to their medications. This is good news. However, this information has not been communicated to the men and doctors are still telling the men that they must pay for their own medications. As the men do not have the means to purchase their own medications it has meant that many of the men have been at risk of the same dangers associated with going off their medications as discussed earlier.
So this week we have been trying to get word out to all the men in Lorengau about how they can make appointments, get a prescription, and access their medications free of charge.
Please, if you have a friend living in one of the town accommodation compounds who is need of medication but does not yet know how he can access it, please ask him to contact me (or you can contact me for him) so I can help him with how to do that and record any problems he has with accessing medications.
Food remains an issue for the men in the ELTC also.
Some men are now receiving the small allowance they need to purchase enough food, but there are still a significant number of men who have not yet started receiving their allowance despite having been in town for weeks, and so are needing additional support.
If you have a friend in the ELTC in this position who is not yet receiving support with food, please contact me so we can arrange support for him.
We are also continuing with our usual main work of providing phone credit for people in Manus and other parts of PNG and for people in Nauru. We are currently using some of the emergency funds to supplement the phone credit fund as needed so that the men in Manus receive their phone credit on their due date, rather than having the usual wait until it gets to their turn on the waiting list.
Thanks again to all supporters and donors making it possible for us to support the men in Manus RPC and Lorengau in this especially difficult time for them, and to continue our usual support for the people Australia is holding in PNG and Nauru.
Gifts for Manus and Nauru
SOME VIDEOS AND ARTICLES OUTLINING THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE RPC AND ON MANUS ISLAND IN GENERAL
For the full video from the ASRC
New York Times article about the situation at Manus: