Tag Archives: asylum seekers suicide attempts

Asylum-seeker child tries to take his life in detention

August 28, 2013

A SOMALI teenager subject to Labor’s new policy to deny boatpeople asylum in Australia was seriously ill at Royal Perth Hospital last night after being found hanging on Christmas Island.

The 16-year-old boy was flown from the Australian territory to Perth in a medical emergency on Sunday. He was among a group of unaccompanied minors on Christmas Island, considered especially vulnerable because they are in immigration detention without a parent or guardian.

In legal terms, asylum-seekers who arrive by boat without a parent or guardian are wards of Immigration Minister Tony Burke.

The discovery of the boy hanging in a bathroom triggered a series of frantic phone calls to find a jet equipped to transfer him to a mainland hospital.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service’s plane was out of service and the next closest medical charter flight company also did not have a plane. The jet that picked up the teenager came from Coolangatta in Queensland and he made the 2600km journey from Christmas Island to Perth on Sunday morning.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship yesterday confirmed a teenaged asylum-seeker had been transferred to Perth, but did not comment on his injuries. “A minor client from CI is being treated at Perth for a medical condition,” a spokeswoman from the department said.

The Australian has been told the teenager was no longer in intensive care last night at RPH but his condition remained serious.

In the past week the department has confirmed a number of “passive protests” among asylum-seekers on Christmas Island, understood to be hunger strikes. Also last week, a group of men protested their transfer to Papua New Guinea before being “spoken to” by senior immigration officials and moved to a high security unit by guards from an emergency response team.

But there have been no known self-harm attempts requiring hospitalisation among those asylum-seekers who have been told they will never be settled in Australia.

While Labor has sent more than 400 single adult men and a small number of families to Nauru and Manus Island under a new regime announced on July 19, unaccompanied minors have not yet been sent offshore.

DIAC has said all asylum-seekers will be sent “in due course”. Yesterday in detention on Christmas Island, unaccompanied minors were being interviewed by immigration officials. One of them, a 16-year-old, believed the interviews were to help decide which of them would be sent overseas first. “They have told us we cannot stay in Australia,” the minor said.

The special status of unaccompanied minors was recognised by the government in October 2010, when Julia Gillard outlined plans to progressively relocate significant numbers of them and families from detention into community-based accommodation while their asylum claims were processed.

The more than 3000 asylum-seekers who have arrived by boat since Kevin Rudd announced the PNG solution are either on Christmas Island waiting to be sent overseas, or already in compounds in PNG and Nauru.

Lifeline has a 24-hour crisis support line which offers a confidential, non-judgmental service by trained telephone crisis support volunteers.The number is 13 11 14.

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/asylum-seeker-child-tries-to-take-his-life-in-detention/story-e6frg6nf-1226705301560

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Detainee condemns ‘slaughterhouse’ Nauru

December 03, 2012

Photo: ‘Slaughterhouse’: An Immigration Dept photo of tent accommodation on Nauru (Department of Immigration and Citizenship)

An asylum seeker being held in the Nauru detention centre has described the place as a “slaughterhouse” that pushes detainees to attempt suicide.

The Iranian man, known as Mehdi, says 10 asylum seekers have tried to take their own lives over the past week, and 25 people are currently on a hunger strike.

The latest unrest inside the detention centre comes as Opposition Immigration spokesman Scott Morrison arrives in Nauru to inspect the facilities following concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers.

Last month Amnesty International described conditions inside the detention centre as “completely unacceptable”, adding that the mental health of asylum seekers was at risk.

Speaking on ABC Radio National, Mehdi accused the Federal Government of failing to treat asylum seekers like human beings.

“If I was aware they’re going to take [sic] us like this, I never [would have] came to Australia, but now I don’t have any option,” he said.

“Maybe I choose some other country – there are many countries who are treating asylum seekers like human beings.

“This is not a detention centre, this is a slaughterhouse. This cruel place compels them to attempt suicide and the guys [are] hurting themselves.

“In our country, we were living with the fear of being killed physically, but here the Government [is] killing us mentally.”

A spokesman for the Immigration Department was unable to comment on Mehdi’s claim that 10 asylum seekers have attempted suicide, but said that there were 12 reports of self-harm over the past week.

Australian Human Rights Commissioner Professor Gillian Triggs, who has been granted permission to visit the Nauru detention centre, says Mehdi’s comments are “very, very disturbing”.

“If the facts are anything close to the way they’re described, then we really are in very serious breach of our obligations,” she said.

Professor Triggs plans to film conditions inside the facility to provide objective evidence of what it is like and to avoid suggestions her impressions of the centre are inaccurate.

Her main concerns are two-fold – that asylum seekers are not having their refugee claims processed, and that there is now a significant difference in how people are being treated in offshore centres as opposed to those released into the Australian community on bridging visas.

The Government announced last month that it would be granting bridging visas to thousands of asylum seekers because there had been too many boat arrivals to accommodate everyone in offshore centres.

Those released into the community will be given a small amount of welfare support, but not allowed to work.

Mehdi says it is unfair that some people are able to live in Australia, while others are being held in detention centres overseas.

“Please treat us asylum seekers in the same way as you’re treating the asylum seekers there in inside the detention centre of Australia,” he said.

“What is the difference between us and them? We all are the same. We all are humans, and we are not criminals – we didn’t commit anything.”

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-12-03/detainee-condemns-slaughterhouse-nauru/4404600

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