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PNG grandmother detained by Border Force after medical emergency

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A grandmother from Papua New Guinea is being held in a Brisbane detention centre after being airlifted to Far North Queensland for medical treatment.

Rapia Komonde was taken by her husband from their remote village in PNG to a medical centre on Saibai Island in the Torres Strait in February, suffering acute appendicitis.

The 55-year-old was then flown to Thursday Island and later the Cairns Hospital before being sent to the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre by Australian Border Force officials.

Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said exactly what happened is still to be determined, but there had been several recent cases of Papua New Guinean residents seeking treatment in Australia then refusing to return home.

He said there was a greater response than necessary in Ms Komonde's case, but added he had heard conflicting reports.

"I'm still trying to establish why she went to Brisbane but I have spoken to the [Home Affairs] Minister's office and I've said that clearly this is something that we need to fine-tune," Mr Entsch said.

"I understand there was a request to remain in Cairns because she had staples in her tummy and apparently she was concerned that if she went back early she would be required to go back and work in the village gardens, and she didn't feel that she was up to it.

"It's not acceptable that people come down here for support and they decide they are going to stay over long-term."

'I am not a criminal,' says grandmother

Ms Komonde told the Torres Strait News that she was not a criminal.

"I came for a medical reason but they sent me to Brisbane, why?" she said.

"I have never been this far south, I have only ever been to Thursday Island once before."

Ms Komonde is from the village of Sigabaduru, which falls under the Torres Strait Treaty, which allows travel between PNG and the Torres Strait without a passport.

Medical treatment is not part of the treaty but is generally accepted by Queensland Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Australian Border Force has been contacted for comment.

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