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Tamil asylum-seeker on Christmas Island evacuated for medical treatment

Priya Murugappan, one of the Tamil asylum-seekers still detained by Australian authorities on Christmas Island, has been urgently evacuated for urgent medical treatment, according to latest reports.

Christmas island itself is not equipped with proper medical facilities, and her transfer to Perth was postponed until her ongoing medical concerns escalated. Questions and concerns about the availability of medical care were also raised during the height of the coronavirus outbreak in Australia, when the Australian government used the island to quarantine those who may have been exposed to coronavirus

The Murugappan family has been in detention since March 2018. They continue to be the only people held on Christmas Island, and the family, especially the two young children, have been struggling in isolation. 

Now, the family is separated for the first time since they were detained together, with the fear of Priya’s ongoing medical treatment on their minds. 

Their case seeking asylum in Australia continues, as they appeal for the government to acknowledge that returning to Sri Lanka would be unsafe for them. The Australian government says that despite instances of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, the family does not meet the criteria for protected status. 

The Murugappan’s case has strong parallels to the recent US Supreme Court decision denying the rights of Tamil asylum-seeker Mr. Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam to federal review of his case. In countries around the world, Tamils are seeking refuge and being denied asylum status, despite very real threats to their lives if they are deported back to Sri Lanka.

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