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A Boy's Simple Broken Arm Puts Spotlight Back On Refugee Medical Care

He fell off a bike and now can't use his hand.

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Erfan, 12, was riding his bike last year when he fell and broke his arm.


The boy, who currently lives at the immigration detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru, has developed a painful deformity because he's been unable to receive post-operative care.

According to refugee advocates, Erfan now cannot hold objects with his left hand and struggles to sleep because of the pain in his arm.

BuzzFeed News has been sent this photo of Erfan trying to straighten the fingers on his left hand.


"The boy needs an orthopedic surgical review urgently to properly assess the deformity and pain he is experiencing," said Dr Barri Phatarfod from Doctors for Refugees.

"That this young boy could be operated upon and not have post-op follow up, especially in light of his ongoing symptoms, would be unthinkable anywhere else."

Refugee lawyer George Newhouse told BuzzFeed News that Erfan is "growing quickly and his arm keeps deforming". He says immigration minister Peter Dutton should step in.

"This young boy requires urgent medical attention, I am hoping that the minister will show some compassion and decency," said Newhouse.

It's not the first time asylum seekers have been unable to get appropriate medical treatment in Australia's offshore detention network.

Neda Vanovac / AAPIMAGE

Hamid Khazaei, 24, died after getting a leg infection on Manus Island in 2014.

The antibiotics available on Manus Island were unable to stop Khazaei's infection progressing to septicaemia and the man suffered three heart attacks before being transported to Australia.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton's office did not respond to questions about the situation facing Erfan on Nauru.

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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