Tharnicaa Murugappan, the youngest daughter of the Tamil family, who has been detained on Christmas Island since August 2019, has been evacuated to a Perth hospital alongside her mother, Priya, with a suspected blood infection, according to ABC News.
Priya and Nades Murugappan, and their two young daughters, Kopika, 6, and Tharnicaa, 3, are best known as the Biloela family. The couple, who arrived in Australia from Sri Lanka by boat in 2012 and 2013, welcomed their daughters after relocating to the central Queensland town of Biloela, before being placed into immigration detention in 2018.
Despite community advocacy to bring the family back to the small town through a widespread campaign, ‘Home to Bilo‘, they have remained under 24-hour surveillance at the detention centre, with the young girls allowed to leave their home for school, being taken to and from by police vans.
Sharing a statement to Change.org about her daughter’s condition, a suspected case of septicaemia, Priya said:
“I am feeling very scared and worried for my little girl. She has been sick for many days, it took a long time for her to get to the hospital.
“She is already asking for her papa, it is going to be very hard being away from her dad and sister.
“It is very hard for our family to be separated when our daughter is sick.”
It’s believed Tharnicaa has been unwell since May 25, noting symptoms of vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness, and a temperature of more than 40 degrees, per Perth Now.
The family’s lawyer, Carina Ford, told reporters that the little girl’s condition had significantly worsened over the weekend, with advocates sharing the detention centre had not taken her to hospital, despite requests, until June 6.
“I think their day-to-day life is getting harder and harder, and there is no doubt that there is a greater impact on the children,” she told ABC News.
The image has sparked outrage online, rightfully so, especially considering this is not the first time Tharnicaa has been unwell while at the detention centre. When she was two years old, Tharnicaa had four teeth surgically removed and another four treated after they began to rot, with advocates believing a lack of access to fresh food and sunlight within the centre had caused a vitamin D deficiency.
A family friend and spokesperson Angela Fredericks, who has long been campaigning for the Tamil family to return to Queensland, said “this is another instance of lack of proper medical care for these little Biloela girls.”
“Tharnicaa has been in detention for almost all of her young life. During that time she has suffered vitamin deficiencies due to lack of sunlight and fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said. “She later suffered [a] concussion after an improperly secured whiteboard fell on her head, and was not taken to hospital until hours later when she started vomiting.
“Now, her needs have been dismissed until she was vomiting and falling over. This is just not good enough.”
Since the news of her hospitalisation, many have called for Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, to take action and let the family return to Queensland, and on June 8, as many as 365,000 people had signed a petition for the family to be resettled.