Friday, May 13, 2005

Archival Rescue 27 ~ Aus Detention & Deportation

Missing Aussie "Are you going to look after me?"
May 13, 2005 AP Sydney Morning Herald

An Australian woman missing after being wrongfully deported to the Philippines four years ago has held an emotional reunion with her sister.

"Are you going to look after me, really?" dual Australian-Filipino citizen Vivian Alvarez, 42, asked her half-sister Cecile Solon at a Philippines hospice.

Solon said she would, telling her long-lost sister: "I am stronger than you."

Alvarez was injured in a car accident in northern NSW in 2001 and mistakenly deported from Australia a few days later.

Australian authorities later realised their mistake but say they could not find Alvarez, who has two children in Australia.

An Australian priest alerted Australian authorities after seeing her photo on TV, and today Alvarez's sister and Australian officials met her at a hospice west of Manila.

Alvarez, who lived in Australia for up to 18 years, told reporters that she did not immediately recognise her sister because of the trauma she suffered in the car accident, pointing to her head. They had last seen each other in 1989.

Alvarez also said she wanted to meet the rest of her family.

"That would be nice, but I can't remember them because of my injuries."

The case of Alvarez has created a political storm in Australia, where a government inquiry into immigration bungles will examine why she was deported and why authorities were unable to find her after they realised their mistake.

Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone says Alvarez, also known as Vivian Solon, Vivian Young and Vivian Wilson, will be brought back to Australia if she wants to.

Australian Consul General Frank Evatt later held a private meeting with Alvarez, her sister and Australian priest Mike Duffin, who first identified Alvarez at his hospice for the poor this week.

"We are very pleased," Evatt said. "We've been devoting a lot of resources and efforts to try and find her. We want to ... make sure that she's okay and to do what we can to make her future better."

Evatt denied that Australian authorities knew all along where Alvarez was.

"I can assure you that that's not the case," he said. "We've spent an enormous amount of effort on Vivian. There's no way that I've seen any record at all that we had any knowledge that she was here."

But Duffin said Alvarez claimed Australian authorities told her she would be taken to the nuns on her arrival in Manila.

"I find that (Evatt's denial) quite difficult to understand. How they can say they are looking for her, report her missing, when they are the ones who placed her where she is now?" Duffin said. "To me, it's a mystery."

He said Alvarez spent about two months in a missionary house in Manila before she was moved to the shelter in Olongapo, about 80 kilometres west of Manila.

Duffin, who runs the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity's shelter in Olongapo, has cared for Alvarez since her deportation.

Duffin said he and the nuns were unaware of the search for Alvarez until her name was mentioned in a news report.

"She said, 'How will I come back to Australia?'" Duffin said.

"But I said, there's been a big injustice done you, and the first thing she said, 'Would they put me in jail?' I said, you haven't committed injustice, the other people have. She said, 'Well, I'm well off here. People are looking after me here.'"

Duffin said Alvarez's accident has "affected her a lot".

She walks with a crutch, still has headaches and can't use some of her fingers and an arm very well.

"She's okay but she is not particularly strong," he said. "She looks 42, but her body is the body of an older lady."


Post a Comment

<< Home