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MOFA denies reports on Iranian refugees removed from Taiwan

2018/05/17 19:29:32

CNA file photo

Taipei, May 17 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) denied media reports that an Iranian refugee and her son were returned to Nauru from Taiwan against psychiatric advice that the son should not be sent back because he suffers from a severe mental illness caused by his detention.

Taiwan officials said the patient completed her course of treatment and left the country in accordance with an existing agreement between Taiwan, Australia and Nauru.

Several local media outlets citing a report in British daily newspaper the Guardian, said that the Iranian refugee and her teenage son had been in Taiwan for two months after being medically transferred from an Australian-run immigration center on Nauru.

The mother had waited 18 months on Nauru for critical heart surgery but refused to be separated from her son, who was suicidal after more than five years on Nauru, according to the Guardian report.

Psychiatric reports said the teenager's mental illness was caused and exacerbated by his detention, and he should not be returned, according to the Guardian.

However, early May 10, officers from the Australian Border Force took him and his mother from their Taipei accommodation and put them on a plane, according to the U.K newspaper.

After confirming with the hospital concerned, the ministry said the Iranian completed her course of treatment before leaving Taiwan and dismissed the media report about "psychiatric advice" that the son should not be returned to the detention center on Nauru as untrue.

Considering Taiwan's advanced medical expertise and longstanding medical cooperation with Nauru, Australia signed a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan in September last year under which critically ill Iranian refugees held at the Nauru Regional Processing Center, an offshore Australian immigration detention facility, can receive treatment in Taiwan. The woman was flown to Taiwan for emergency heart surgery at Taipei's Adventist Hospital starting in January this year, according to MOFA.

The cooperative project serves as a demonstration of Taiwan's international medical and humanitarian aid efforts, MOFA said, noting that all patients transferred to Taiwan are required to hold a visitor's visa for medical treatment issued by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and prove they need medical treatment in Taiwan.

Before they come to Taiwan, such patients understand the rights and obligations related to their medical care and consent to leave the country after their treatment is completed, MOFA added.

(By Lin Hsing-meng and Evelyn Kao)
Enditem/AW