Nauru: More protests and hunger strike as conditions deteriorate

Refugee Action Coalition: Another 38 asylum seekers, Iranian and Afghan, arrived in Nauru this morning (Friday 19 October) taking the number of asylum seekers, in the increasingly crowded detention centre, to around 330.

But asylum seekers on Nauru continue to protest. A united protest of all detainees was held on Wednesday 17 October, demanding that processing of refugee claims start immediately and that the Australian government stop sending asylum seekers to Nauru.

Attached is a statement (in English) issued on 17 October outlining their demands.

The Refugee Action Coalition has also been told that an Iranian man is on the eighth day of a protest hunger strike. Asylum seekers say that his condition has noticeably deteriorated and they are worried about his health.

Conditions in the camp have become unbearable. One message from Afghan asylum seekers received on 18 October says that, “…Now Nauru has become a place for asylum seekers to be detained, in small tents that are set up on dirt and are non-standard, with only a few bathrooms and showers that aren’t usable and an area that is surrounded by wire. It’s called Nauru and we asylum seekers, numbering 290 people are detained within this. Here, in addition to mental and psychological problems such as several instances of suicide attempts, most of the asylum seekers are suffering from horrible skin diseases that the officials’ only solution to is to recommend Panadol and an intake of cold water. When the sun rises the asylum seekers try to seek refuge outside the tents in search of some shade in dread of the blazing sun rays and the hot weather inside the tents and only when the sun sets are they able to return to their tents.

“Dirty water exacerbates the skin diseases and every day is worse than the day before. There is no such a thing as medication and hygiene; if a refugee is suffering from an illness all they get for treatment is quarantine. The numbers of sick refugees are increasing due to extremely hot weather, inappropriate places for sleeping and lack of hygienic facilities and this particular contagious disease is troubling the refugees to a great extent.

“We request the World Health Organization and the Amnesty International to visit us, or any other organization or human being who claims to be an advocate of human rights to help us so that our cases are processed in Australia as soon as possible and to stop the Nauru solution to prevent a humanitarian disaster from happening.”

“Nauru is rapidly becoming the kind of hell-hole created by the Howard government. The Gillard government must repudiate Tony Abbott’s call for asylum seekers to be held in such appalling conditions for five years and begin processing refugee claims immediately and halt the transfer of any more asylum seekers to limb in Nauru,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

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