Australia's immigration policies slammed

Human Rights advocates highlight conditions at Australian detention center in Pacific atoll of Nauru as 'shocking'

Australia's immigration policies slammed

World Bulletin / News Desk

Human Rights advocates have slammed the Australian government for its immigration policies, highlighting conditions at a detention center in the Pacific atoll of Nauru as "shocking".

"This is a scandal for a country like Australia," Pamela Curr, a campaign coordinator at Asylum Seeker Resource Center (ASRC), told Anadolu Agency this week.

"We are a country of migration. We are strong and wealthy because of all the people who have come here from all over the world, and now we are turning into a country that is closing its doors, closing our hearts and closing our minds to those who we should welcome."

For years, Australia has been refusing to resettle refugees who attempt to reach its shores by boat, instead paying Nauru to house its asylum seekers -- including Rohingya and Uighur Muslims, Iranians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Somalis, and Sudanese.

Many have been assessed as genuine refugees.

It has now signed a deal with Cambodia whereby refugees rejected by Australia will soon fly from the Pacific atoll to be resettled in the Southeast Asian country -- costing it more than A$10 million ($7.6 million) a year.

Curr told Anadolu Agency that those sent to Nauru are living in terrible circumstances.

"They are not allowed to work, because if they take any jobs the locals beat them up," she alleged, adding that their children are also being beaten up at local schools.

"They are regularly stoned in the streets. We have had instances when young women have been raped, and the [local] police do nothing about it," she said.

“It is a shocking situation outside the camp, and it is a terrible situation inside the camp where people are living with deprivation.

"There is not enough water, they have two minutes shower if they are lucky, they do not have enough food for their children…and on top of that, there are guards who are raping the women, and sexually abusing the children with impunity, and nobody is doing anything about it.”

Curr claimed that the Nauru government -- which she thinks is operating "under the instructions of the Australian government" -- has even cut off Internet and telephone access for refugees.

“What they are trying to do is hide the terrible things that are being done in our [Australia's] name on Nauru,” she said.

Robin Rothfield, the co-chairman of the Australian opposition's “Labor for Refugees” group, has slammed the mental and physical harm that he says happens at the detention center.

He highlighted "Australian of the year 2010” Professor Pat McGorry's description of the camp as "detention facilities as a factory for producing mental illness."

"This is a good summary, because what they are doing there is causing mental and physical harm to all the detainees,” he said.

Rothfield described the number of refugees attempting to get to Australia as a "drop in the ocean.”

It's nothing when you look at “what Jordan is doing, with what Turkey is doing" in housing those fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East.

"The numbers coming to Australia are so low,” he said. “It's such a huge shame on the government that they cannot let the people who arrive here get in freely." 

According to Human Rights Watch, as of June 30 2014, 3,624 people, including 699 children, were being held in Australia-administrated detention and transfer centers.

There also another 24,500 refugees awaiting visas in Australia.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Haziran 2015, 18:00