News

MANUS CRISIS UPDATE: Tuesday 21st November 2017

Hello everyone,

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.
Thanks
Ali Murdoch
Gifts for Manus and Nauru

SOME VIDEOS AND ARTICLES OUTLINING THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE RPC AND ON MANUS ISLAND IN GENERAL
The Project:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aaLS39L6Vg

For the full video from the ASRC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an6jua0KUuc&feature=youtu.be

New York Times article about the situation at Manus:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/11/18/world/australia/manus-island-australia-detainees.html

Junkee article:
http://junkee.com/manus-refugees-stories/133808

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EMERGENCY FOOD CROWDFUND UPDATE – Sunday 12th November 2017

Hi everyone! Thanks for the continued support for the men in the RPC.
Getting food in while authorities continue to try to block the men’s access to food, water and supplies remains a challenge, but deliveries of food and other supplies are still happening.

Thanks for donating and making this possible.

We are also now looking at trying to address two new problems.

The first is food for the men in the ELTC.

At the East Lorengau Transit Centre in the town (ELTC), the men are supposed to receive food packs and an allowance each week to live off.

However this is not happening. The men who have moved there in recent weeks are not receiving any allowance yet.

The food packs provided include one larger food pack with most of the week’s food items, and a smaller pack later in the week to top it up.

The men who have moved to the East Lorengau Transit Centre in town over the past few days have only received the smaller top up pack, which doesn’t contain the staples like rice or oil or any protein… and so even with the top up pack (milk, cereal, bread) they have not received sufficient food to last them until the next food packs are delivered this week.

The food packs, even when they receive both of them, are not enough to feed a man for a week, and they are expected to buy the rest of their food out of their allowance…except the men are not being paid an allowance yet. Men who have been in the transit centre for weeks are still waiting to be paid any of their allowance, and so are trying to get by just on these food packs.

So we are now looking into how we can get some food distributed to these men for the next few days, and how we can supplement the food packs for the men in the ELTC until their allowance starts and they can buy their own food.

The second issue is medication for the men.

In October, IHMS distributed a 28-30 day supply of the men’s medications and told them they would then have to sort out their own.

That supply of medications has now run out or will run out in coming days, leaving hundreds of men without their medication and with no way to pay for their own.

This is incredibly concerning to us and is a huge stress for the men.

So we are currently looking at ways that we can coordinate to get financial and logistical assistance for as many of the men as possible to access their medications.

Here is how you can help.

Funds for this purpose can be made into our ‘medical’ bank account (details here: https://giftsformanusandnauru.org.au/how-to-donate/ )

Or donations can continue to be made to this emergency crowdfund and we will allocate some funding from this for medications as able.

Urgent call for donations for food for 600 men on Manus Island

Over 600 men are currently in the Manus detention centre with no food, water, power, sanitation or health care.

Donations for food, water and other emergency supplies for the men in the Manus detention centre can be made via here:

https://chuffed.org/project/manus-emergency-food-and-water

“All The Same” song and video by Moz (one of our friends detained in Manus)

Moz, one of our friends at Manus, has written a song, ‘All The Same’ to bring attention to the plight of himself & other refugees. Moz’s vocals & the footage were recorded on a mobile phone in detention, and he then worked on the music and video production together with artists in Australia, with tracks being sent online back & forth between Melbourne & Manus over 5 weeks.

Please watch and download the song and video here:

http://www.ourhumanity.xyz/

15th February 2017 – SBS article by Nicola Heath

http://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2017/02/15/not-profit-crowdfunding-phone-credit-asylum-seekers

 

An Australian charity is crowdfunding phone credit for asylum seekers living on Manus Island and Nauru to help them stay connected with loved ones.

By

Nicola Heath

Phone credit is a luxury for the nearly 1,300 asylum seekers currently living in Australian offshore processing plants on Manus Island and Nauru. Asylum seekers currently spend an average of 450 days in detention, a record high. Over 20 per cent have been detained for more than 750 days. For these people, phone credit offers a precious line of communication to the outside world, a means to call family, read the news, seek legal advice and find answers to concerning health questions.

Gifts for Manus and Nauru runs monthly crowdfunding campaigns to provide phone credit for 1270 people currently on its database, all of whom have passed a stringent identity check. The January campaign brought in $12,000. “It’s really good, but it barely scratches the surface of what we need,” says Annie Molenaar, the organisation’s vice president. “If we were able to raise enough money each month to top them all up regularly, we would need to raise over $42,000 a month.”

Asylum seekers on Manus Island were officially allowed to have mobile phones only after Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled in April 2016 that the processing centre was unconstitutional. Before that the mobile phones that inevitably found their way into the camp were considered contraband. “Once they got access to mobile phones, their whole worlds opened up,” says Molenaar.

Many detainees rely on the top-ups they receive from Gifts for Manus and Nauru to keep in touch with their family and friends, sometimes waiting 48 days for fresh credit. “We would love to get to a point where we’ve got them on a monthly cycle, so they don’t have to go through the anguish of ‘When am I going to get my next top-up?’” she says. “So much of the mental anguish that they experience is because of the uncertainty in which they’re living. Their detention is indefinite, and they have very little that they can rely on. They’ve all lost faith in people, and who they can and can’t rely on, and this is one service that they’ve really grown to depend on.”

Life in the offshore processing centres is difficult, lacking most of the comforts we take for granted, like hot water and privacy. There is little to do to alleviate the daily boredom that marks life in the camps. On Manus Island, the only mode of transport is a minibus that ferries the detainees to and from town. People start lining up at 5.30am for the 8 o’clock bus, and many miss it because it is too full.

It was a desire to help break that daily tedium that prompted Molenaar to contact detainees in the first place. “I had a friend who was working on Manus Island, and she mentioned to me that some of the guys there were looking to have pen pals… something to keep their minds occupied.” In their letters, Annie’s correspondents wrote of their boredom. When she learned they were interested in things like reading and drawing, she sent them parcels containing e-readers and art supplies.

Gifts for Manus and Nauru started as a small Facebook group of people who, like Annie and the organisation’s founder Ali Murdoch, was sending care packages to asylum seekers. They pooled their resources to reduce postal costs. Their number grew and in 2016 the organisation registered as a charity. While phone credit is their focus for fundraising, they still send parcels. Popular items include sporting goods like runners and skipping ropes, external hard drives filled with movies and TV series, clothes, hats and sunglasses.

The group also sends snacks and vitamins. “They often run out of food in the mess,” she says. “If they’ve got an appointment with a doctor and they’re not around when their food is served, then they just miss out.”

It’s Molenaar’s observation that mental illness is endemic among asylum seekers living offshore. “There’s not one person that I’ve spoken to that hasn’t at some point experienced extreme depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, all of those things.”

A new service offered by Gifts for Manus and Nauru aims to address this problem. If an asylum seeker is believed to be struggling with their mental health, the organisation will refer them to a professional trauma counsellor or psychologist. They can talk to the medical professional by whatever means they decide, says Annie. “If they’re more comfortable communicating via text, through some type of a messenger service, they can do that, or if they would like to speak to them directly via phone, they can do that as well.”

Phone Credit Crowdfund – Dec 7 to Dec 21 2016

Hello,

Here is the link to our December crowdfund for phone credit.
The wait time has reached record length, at 47 days from when people’s month of credit expires to when they get their next top up.

As of 7.12.16 we have 536 people needing to be topped up immediately, and more being added back onto the waiting list each day as their month of credit runs out.
It would be great if we could try to catch up on many of these top ups before Christmas.

Please help us to do some much needed top ups. Donate if you can, and please share.

https://chuffed.org/project/gifts-for-manus-and-nauru-phone-credit4