Sunday, October 21, 2012

Australia, Naura and the inhumanity of asylum seeker policy

Excellent article here from the Global Mail on Australia's illegal and inhumane offshore gulag on Naura.

The debacle of this inhumanity worsens, with the Naura Government expressing concern about the poor standard of the facilities and asylum seekers taking action to protest their situation.

Given the poor record of Transfield the corporation contracted by the Gillard Government to build and run the facility the poor standard of the facilities is hardly surprising.

Already there have been hunger strikes, suicide and self harm attempts and protests by asylum seekers. The Sydney based Refugee Action Coalition and asylum seekers themselves have issued statements abut the appalling state of the facilities and the harmful impacts.

The worsening circumstances on Naura also raises fundamental questions about the role of the Salvation Army who have been contracted by the Gillard Government to provide humanitarian support. In reality the Salvation Army's is severely compromised by its involvement in such inhumane and cruel policy (more on that in a piece to be written this week) and Salvation Army staff returning form Naura have raised questions about their involvement.

The Global Mail reports:
The Refugee Action Coalition, which is in contact with some asylum seekers on Nauru, said a mass protest meeting of asylum seekers on Nauru on Wednesday had demanded an immediate start to the processing of their claims. The Gillard government has suspended the processing of all asylum seekers who arrived in Australia by boat since mid-August — a policy designed to ensure that people arriving by boat lose any advantage over others who use official channels to seek residence in Australia.
A message sent from Nauru and signed by a group of asylum seekers said: “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.”
(According to the Refugee Action Coalition another 38 asylum seekers were flown into Nauru on Friday, October 19.).

The asylum seekers’ statement, delivered to the Refugee Action Coalition, continued: “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.”

The statement said the number of sick refugees on Nauru was increasing and their conditions were worsened by dirty water — a product of Nauru’s well-documented water shortages.

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