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Buddies Refugee Support Group
Detained refugees at Mantra Hotel in Melbourne who were evacuated from PNG and Nauru under Medevac holding signs: "We do not want to get COVID-19”

SBS News, 29 March

The Home Affairs Department has rejected calls to release any asylum seekers or refugees being held in immigration detention in Australia over COVID-19 concerns. Immigration lawyers, advocates and detainees were hoping Australia would follow the United Kingdom’s decision to release hundreds of detained immigrants last week.
    “It is beyond belief that no people from immigration detention have been released due to the virus,” said immigration attorney Alison Battisson. “Health controls and physical distancing cannot be maintained. It is just impossible. Further, not only are the people in immigration detention in danger, but so are the people who work there, and their family and friends.”
    Detainees say social distancing is not being followed. But a spokesperson for the Department said no detainees had tested positive to coronavirus... more 
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BUDDIES' ACTIVITIES IN MARCH AND FINANCE REPORT

As monthly meetings have been suspended for the time being there are no minutes. The attached document gives an overview of Buddies activities for March, including the finance report… READ

EMAIL YOUR MP: Do not forget asylum seekers and refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic

Refugee Council of Australia

Right now, thousands of people seeking asylum in Australia have no access to Medicare, no work and no social security. Likewise a breakout of COVID-19 in any of Australia’s detention facilities would have a devastating effect on people detained there. We are calling on the Federal government to take a number of bold actions to improve individual situations and reduce health risks to the broader community. You can enter your postcode and RCOA will automatically send your email to your local Federal MP!... more

Australian Border Force: great at stopping boats, absolutely terrible at stopping cruise liners.

 
– Ben Eltham, journalist, on Twitter
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PETITION: Peter Dutton, release people in detention centres

Human Rights for All

As an Australian lawyer familiar with how detention centres are run, I am incredibly worried for the health and safety of the people inside these centres, including my youngest client, 2 year old Isabella who has been in detention her entire life. That’s why I’m calling for the release of these innocent people, before COVID-19 spreads through immigration detention centres... SIGN 

PETITION to protect people seeking asylum and refugees in COVID-19 crisis

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston has been delegated special powers to grant social security benefits for the COVID-19 crisis. Minister for Health Greg Hunt has powers over Medicare. Call on PM Morrison, Minister Ruston, and Minister Hunt to introduce emergency measures to protect asylum seekers and refugees... SIGN

Without doubt someone like Australian Home Affairs Minister is now thinking how to use Coronavirus to limit freedom in the country. It is an excuse to dominate and abuse power further. The priority for him is this, not people's health.

 
– Behrouz Boochani, author and ex-Manus detainee, on Twitter

Purchase tickets for the SCRAN raffle

The raffle first prize is an art work generously donated by local artist Katherine Nix. You can purchase $5 raffle tickets from the Buddies website. You can also volunteer to sell raffle tickets to friends and family by emailing Andrea Douglas or Penny Rivlin. The raffle will be drawn on 30 May 2020. More about the raffle prizes

BUDDIES STILL COLLECTING ITEMS FOR THE ROMERO CENTRE

Most people seeking asylum and living in the community on temporary visas will now be unemployed yet not entitled to any financial support from the government. Buddies will be continuing to collect groceries for the Romero Community Pantry, delivering next week. You can contribute groceries at the following drop-off locations:
Buderim: 30 Orme Road and 138 Lindsay Road
Nambour: 8 Kerada Road, Rosemount
For social distancing safety, ring first and just drop them at the door. If it is not possible for you to send groceries you can donate cash through the Romero web page
A THANK YOU LETTER FROM ROMERO
WARNING: THIS IS A SATIRE!

QUIZ: Which one of these boats was stopped from entering Australia because it was a threat to national security?

The Shovel, 
23 March

No! I’m sorry that’s incorrect. It wasn’t the giant p***-off cruise ship with 1,148 crew and 2,647 passengers that docked in Sydney in the middle of a viral pandemic, carrying at least 50 infectious passengers. Although I can see why you would say that.
    The correct answer was, in fact, a small boat of desperate people seeking refuge from a war-torn country.
    Better luck next time!

Morrison government urged to help temporary visa holders

The Guardian, 21 March

Labor has called on the Coalition to extend visa deadlines and relax conditions while coronavirus restrictions are in place. Shadow home affairs minister, Kristina Keneally, said the opposition would support “sensible, temporary and reviewable” measures for temporary visa holders. She said the government needed to consider extending access to health treatment and social security support for more than 1 million visa holders currently in the country, for the sake of the nation’s health. These include temporary protection visa holders, some skilled visas, and people on bridging visas... more

Manus, Nauru refugees hit by US shutdowns

AAP, 23 March

Jobs are bountiful in Las Vegas, but the unthinkable happened last week when the coronavirus pandemic shut the city down until at least 16 April. More than 200,000 hospitality workers, including ex-Nauru detainee Maryam Mohammadi who was working as a cashier at a food court, were instantly out of work. “It is terrible,” Ms Mohammadi, who does not have friends or family in the US, said.“I don’t know what I am going to do. I have no money.” Ms Mohammadi was one of the estimated 700 people transferred to the US under the resettlement deal... more
 

Doctors warn of deadly coronavirus risks for refugees, guests at hotel

Brisbane Times, 1 April

A group of refugees and asylum seekers medically evacuated from Manus Island say they are terrified of contracting the deadly coronavirus while being held in cramped facilities in a Melbourne motel. More than 1180 health-care professionals have signed a joint letter to the government calling for the men to be released, saying makeshift detention centres like the Mantra Hotel in Preston, where they are being held, represent “a very high-risk environment” for the virus to be transmitted... more
 

Fears for Iranian refugee removed from Jakarta-Melbourne flight amid coronavirus crisis

The Guardian, 29 March

Australian safe haven visa holder Amir has been denied re-entry to Australia and sent back to Turkey in a case reminiscent of detained footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, which left a refugee wrongly detained in a Thai prison after a series of bureaucratic bungles over his visa status. Refugee advocates fear time is running out for Amir to return to his Australian home after he was denied the right to board a flight from Indonesia to Australia because of his visa status... more

COVID-19: Calls for evacuation of refugees from Nauru, PNG

RadioNZ, 2 April

About 210 refugees remain in Nauru and 220 formerly held on Manus Island are now in Port Moresby. In the PNG capital, Sri Lankan refugee Shaminda Kanapathi said the coronavirus had “dramatically increased anxiety among the refugees”. “Many people have health problems after seven years of medical neglect. They will be particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus,” he said. “The health system in Port Moresby will not cope with any outbreak.” The Refugee Council of Australia agreed... more

Coronavirus and the looming refugee crisis

The Strategist, 26 March

It’s easy to focus inwards during times like this. But another crisis created by COVID-19 is looming. Over the coming months, governments hosting the world’s 70 million refugees will have to make a difficult choice between diverting critical resources to support foreigners or taking the easier route of opening borders to allow millions to move into neighbouring countries. Refugee camps are cramped quarters that facilitate the quick spread of a virus. Host governments will be watching, with increasing awareness of the difficult decisions coming up... more
 

Remember a time, pre-pandemic, when the government boasted how it was ‘tough on borders’?

Sydney Morning Herald, 29 March

The government has made disastrous border control mistakes, beginning with the early decision to allow planes from China into Australia in January, before imposing third-country quarantine on China arrivals from January 31. This was followed by the baffling call to allow 2700 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship to disembark in Sydney on March 19 and disperse all over the country, becoming super-spreaders for the virus... more
Thank you to Andrea Douglas, Gillian Duffy, Scott Grimmett, Penny Rivlin and Diana Woolley for their contributions to this edition.
BUDDIES BULLETIN – EDITORIAL POLICY
DEADLINE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS:
 
5pm Wednesday
Please send contributions for the newsletter to the editor. 

EDITOR / PRODUCTION: Wendy Oakley
WEBSITE: Mike Law

FACEBOOK: Anneliese Broadaway
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ABOUT BUDDIES
The Buddies Refugee Support Group is a Sunshine Coast group which advocates for just and compassionate treatment of refugees, consistent with the human rights standards which Australia has developed and endorsed.
   We support policies towards refugees and asylum seekers that reflect respect, decency and traditional Australian generosity to those in need, while advancing Australia’s international standing and national interests.
   We are an independent community group and meet on the 4th Sunday of each month at 11am, University of the Sunshine Coast, Building E, Ground Floor Room 14.
Confidentiality  Your email address is completely confidential.
To contribute to Buddies   Buddies’ fundraising contributes to refugee and asylum seeker support. You can direct debit to:
Suncorp Bank, BSB 484-799     
Account No: 123508960    
Account name: Buddies Refugee Support Group Ltd 
Or you can contribute to ‘The Box’ at our meetings and events. Your donations are much appreciated by those we help.






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Buddies Refugee Support Group · PO Box 367 · Buderim, Qld 4556 · Australia

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