The 63-year-old Afghan refugee moved to Australia at the weekend for palliative care is being cared for in a hospital and has received visits from Queensland’s Hazara community.
Ali, whose full name is withheld to protect his family, has terminal lung cancer. He had been held on for five years, but the care he was receiving in the Australian-run processing centre on the island was, according to doctors, “totally inadequate”, and he faced a painful and protracted death without specialist palliative care.
The Australian Border Force had initially refused to move him to Australia, instead offering him $25,000 to return to – the country he had fled because of persecution and threats to his life – or to take him to Taiwan. He rejected that offer because he knew no one there, would have no one who could speak his language, and where, he feared, no one would be present to conduct Shia Muslim rituals on his body once he died.
After Ali’s failing health and the rejection of were , the and the issued statements saying he should be immediately brought to Australia.
Dear America, we can teach you a few things about cruelty to refugees. Love, Australia | Brigid Delaney
More than to move him to Australia, and more than calling for his immediate transfer.
Even within the ABF and the home affairs department there was significant resistance to Ali, a father of six, being left on Nauru to die.
ABF officials on Nauru asked repeatedly for him to be moved. Sources told the Guardian several departmental officials argued for Ali to be brought to Australia, saying the country was failing a “fundamental legal and moral duty of care” by leaving him on Nauru. Moving a dying man to a place that could properly care for him at the end of his life would cause no substantial damage to Australia’s offshore detention policy, they argued.
After telling Ali repeatedly he would never be moved to Australia, the ABF – acting, the Guardian understands, on instruction from Canberra – swiftly reversed its decision at the weekend and .
He was too unwell to travel by commercial aircraft and is not expected to live more than a few weeks.
On Nauru, friends of Ali said they were relieved he was finally receiving the care he required.
“We are happy for him, and we are grateful. He will be comfortable, and we hope he gets the best treatment,” one said.