A 1-year-old baby in Australia, who was placed in an offshore detention center with her family on the island nation of Nauru, will eventually be sent back there despite a widespread public protest to keep her and nearly 300 others in the country, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed Monday.
The child, known as Baby Asha, was discharged on Monday from the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, where she was being treated for serious burns. The baby and her family have moved into community detention while she recovers, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC).
“People will go back to Nauru,” Dutton said, clarifying that there was no change to the government’s policy of keeping refugees in Australia only as long as they need medical treatment.
Asha’s case made headlines in the past two weeks, with the hospital refusing to discharge the child if she was sent back to the offshore camps. Demonstrators also gathered in front of the hospital to protest her deportation.
Although Dutton made it clear that Asha will be sent back to Nauru at some point, many refugee advocates hailed her transfer to local community detention as an “incredible victory,” according to Australian newspaper the Age. They will now reportedly seek an “iron-clad guarantee” that she “won’t be ripped out of community detention and sent back to Nauru.”
Earlier this month, an Australian court ruled that the country’s controversial offshore detention centers in the neighboring countries of Nauru and Papua New Guinea were legal. The ruling has paved the way for 267 refugees who were in Australia for medical treatment — including 37 children — to be sent back to the centers, where reports of human-rights abuse abound.
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