A baby girl in Australia who faces deportation to an offshore detention camp has sparked a national debate over her future.
The 12-month-old child, known as “Baby Asha,” was flown to Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane several weeks ago after she was scalded with boiling water at an Australian-financed detention center on the Pacific island of Nauru. Last week, the hospital announced that it would not release the baby from its care if she’s going to be forced to return to the detention center.
“This patient will only be discharged once a suitable home environment is identified,” the hospital announced in a press release on Feb. 12.
The announcement sparked a vigil outside Lady Cilento, with Australian ministers, doctors and activists voicing support for the hospital’s decision that the offshore Nauru detention camp was unsafe for the baby, according to the Guardian.
In the meantime, the Australian Immigration Department has hired guards to stand outside the hospital room Asha and her Nepalese mother are staying, Natasha Blucher, an advocate for the family and activist at the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network, told CNN.
“She’s effectively in detention inside the hospital,” Blucher said.
The prison-like facility in Nauru, where the child and her family lived, currently houses close to 500 detainees and 60 children. According to CNN, two weeks ago Australia’s top court ruled that the government’s role in funding and participating in offshore detention was not a breach of law. That means that over 260 people who had been sent to Australia for medical care, like Baby Asha, are likely to be sent back.