Australia: Tamil refugee kid tragically dies in house fire

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Rithish Kirushnaneethan, a four-year-old Tamil refugee kid died in a house fire in Dandenong, in Melbourne’s south-east of Australia. 

Rithish leaves behind two siblings and his parents, Tamil refugees seeking permanent protection in Australia, Tamil Refugee Council said in a press release. 

“The family have been moving between various places because they have been denied support from the Australian government,” said Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam.

“The Department of Home Affairs have unreasonably delayed processing the family’s asylum applications, despite completing the immigration interviews. The family has since struggled to find stable accommodation and have been living in fear that they will be deported.”

The family fled Sri Lanka and arrived in Australia in 2012. They were first detained on Christmas Island before relocating to the mainland. They have remained on a bridging visa for nine years. In search of financial security and stability, the family have lived in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide, and moved to Melbourne only one month ago.

The Tamil Refugee Council is deeply concerned about the government’s continued neglect of the permanent protection claims of the Kirushnaneethan family – now also living with the grief of losing their child.

“The government continues to deny protection to Tamil refugees like the Kirushnaneethan family and it is having devastating consequences for the parents’ ability to provide adequate care for their children”, Mylvaganam said.

“What happened to Ritish is tragic. It is causing immense pain for the family, who have desperately been trying to rebuild their lives here.”

According to the press release of Tamil Refugee Council, Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe to pay for the funeral and to help the Kirushnaneethans in this time of great stress: gofundme.com/f/funeral-for-rithish.

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