AUSTRALIA’S immigration policy has been criticised after a hospital in Brisbane refused to discharge an asylum-seeker baby facing deportation.
The one-year-old girl, known by a pseudonym, Asha, was being treated for serious burns after she was scalded with hot water on the island of Nauru in January.
She may now be sent back to the island prison that Australia uses for asylum seekers, as part of its off-shore detention policy.
Al Jazeera said a handful of protesters continued to gather outside the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for a third day on Monday in support of allowing Asha and her parents to stay.
The fate of the asylum seekers currently in Australia is set to be decided within a fortnight after a recent High Court ruling in favour of the government’s offshore detention policies.
Hospital staff say Asha, who was born in Australia to Nepalese parents who arrived by boat, will not be released until a “suitable home environment is identified”, according to a statement.
The hospital’s move came as state governments, churches and activists stepped up their efforts to stop the return of some 267 people, including 37 babies, to Nauru following the High Court ruling.
On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key offered to take in the 267 people, if they were found to be refugees.
Under Australia’s immigration policy, asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to detention prisons in the Pacific island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.
They are blocked from being resettled in Australia even if found to be refugees.
On Sunday, campaigners from ActionAid, Amnesty International, GetUp! and Greenpeace unfurled a banner on Sydney’s harbour calling for the asylum-seekers, who are set to be deported after being brought to Australia for medical treatment, to be allowed to stay.