New Zealand men stuck in an Australian detention centre are pleading to come home as the state of Victoria becomes a hot spot for coronavirus.
Raymond Elise is one of about 30 men at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation who were told they were due to be deported on or around June 18 – but Covid-19 delayed this.
Now, the men are “in limbo” and have no idea when they will be sent home.
Elise, a senior member of the Rebels MC, said the Australian Government has said the New Zealand Government is delaying the deportation. However, the New Zealand Government has said it’s the other way around.
Elise earlier told he was loading groceries into his car outside a supermarket on April 24 when armed police jumped from a van and forced him to the ground at gunpoint.
At midnight on Monday, the men began sleeping outside the detention centre in protest.
In a letter to the Australian Border Force to explain why they were protesting, the men said they felt forgotten and unimportant.
“We all feel that you can’t legally hold us any longer.”
New Zealand Police said it could not comment on Australian facilities or its response to the pandemic.
Since deportations resumed, a police spokesperson said three deportees had come back to New Zealand from Australia.
They arrived on June 9, 16, and 18 and have completed their mandatory isolation periods.
Elise said the men were becoming stressed as they didn’t know what was happening.
“We just want to return home,” he said.
Elise said officers and contractors were coming to and from the detention centre with no use of personal protective equipment – and there was a possibility the virus could be passed on.
Olive Smith, also at the detention centre, said there were some days when hand sanitiser wasn’t even available and social distancing was not being practised or enforced.
While most of Australia has relaxed its restrictions, Victoria has moved backwards. The southern state recorded 182 new cases at the weekend, overseas travel accounting for just one case.
This week it was announced Melbourne would go back into lockdown for six weeks.
People will not be allowed to leave home unless for essential reasons including medical and care giving, shopping for essential items, work and study and exercise.
An Australian Border Force spokesman said it continues to work with New Zealand authorities to return eligible Kiwi citizens currently in immigration detention in Australia.
“Beyond this, we do not discuss upcoming removals before they occur.”
Source: Stuff by Danielle Clent