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Australia probes care of asylum-seeker fighting for life

Australia on Friday (Sep 5) said it has ordered a review into the medical care of an asylum-seeker who is reportedly on life support after cutting his foot at an offshore camp, as activists said he was the victim of neglect.

SYDNEY: Australia on Friday (Sep 5) said it has ordered a review into the medical care of an asylum-seeker who is reportedly on life support after cutting his foot at an offshore camp, as activists said he was the victim of neglect.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the man, named by refugee advocates as 24-year-old Iranian Hamid Kehazaei, was being treated in a Brisbane hospital but his condition was extremely poor. "The Department of Immigration and Border Protection's chief medical officer, I've asked to review the clinical treatment of this young man," Morrison said. "That young man is still with us but his condition, as you know, is extremely, extremely parlous."

Morrison defended the medical care the man received at the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea where he was held, saying accusations of neglect "have not been based on any primary knowledge of this case". "When someone becomes ill, they receive outstanding care from the people who work as part of our mainland detention network and in the offshore processing centres," the minister added.

Under Canberra's hardline immigration policy, boatpeople arriving in Australia since July 2013 have been sent to camps on Manus Island and the tiny Pacific state of Nauru. They are resettled in those countries if their refugee claims are valid.

Refugee activist Ian Rintoul said Kehazaei was "brain dead" in hospital, after been flown to Brisbane from PNG on Aug 27, suffering from septicaemia after an infection from a cut foot. "Hamid is a victim of the shocking conditions and medical neglect on Manus Island. It is inexcusable that he developed septicaemia on Manus Island," Rintoul, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, said in a statement. Rintoul said the Iranian was sent to the Manus Island camp in September 2013 under the previous Labor government

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, a vocal critic of the government's policy of detaining asylum-seekers at offshore facilities, said the case was "a tragedy that could and should have been avoided". "This man was in the care of the Australian government. He came to us and asked for help and we failed him in the most appalling way," she said.

Morrison previously refuted allegations of the camps' poor medical standards heard during an ongoing national inquiry into the mandatory detention of children, saying the facilities were "equivalent to those in the community, and in many cases far better".