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Youngest daughter of Biloela Tamil family medically-evacuated from Christmas Island

The youngest daughter of a Tamil family detained on Christmas Island has been medically evacuated to Perth with a suspected blood infection. Tharnicaa, three, is the youngest person in Australia’s immigration detention system and one of only two children, the other being her five-year-old sister Kopika.

She has been detained on Christmas Island with her sister and parents, Priya and Nades Murugappan, since August 2019 after an urgent court injunction blocked their deportation to Sri Lanka.

Family friend Bronwyn Dendle told SBS News Tharnicaa was flown out of Christmas Island to a hospital in Perth on Monday afternoon after being unwell with high temperatures, vomiting, and diarrhea, since 25 May.

She said she was first taken to hospital on the island in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A statement published by the Home to Bilo campaign, a group of friends and supporters who advocate for the family, said health services on the remote island had only administered Panadol and Nurofen when Priya raised the alarm about her daughter’s condition.

“I am feeling very scared and worried for my little girl,” Priya said. “She has been sick for many days; it took a long time for her to get to the hospital.”

Christmas Island

Tharnicaa was medically evacuated on Monday afternoon.

Rebekah Holt

Priya has traveled with her daughter to Perth, but her father was forced to remain on the island. “I know that Nades is very worried and upset about everything,” Ms. Dendle, who has been in contact with the family, said. The family has been in immigration detention for more than three years. After overstaying their visa, they were taken from their home in the small Queensland town of Biloela on 5 March 2018 and placed in Melbourne’s Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) before being transferred to Christmas Island.

“Tharnicaa would have been able to access timely and appropriate medical care if she lived here in Biloela,” Ms. Dendle said. “And now we’ve got a case where a child is seriously ill and being flown to a major children’s hospital … as a mother, my heart breaks into a thousand pieces having to watch your child be that ill.”

In 2019, four of Tharnicaa’s teeth were surgically removed due to severe decay, which advocates believe was caused by a lack of fresh food and vitamin D deficiency brought on by life in detention.

A protracted legal battle to secure the family’s right to remain in Australia currently hinges on whether three-year-old Tharnicaa can apply for protection.

In February, the full bench of the federal court upheld an earlier ruling that found Tharnicaa was not given procedural fairness when her application for a protection visa was assessed.

The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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