Numerous 410 asylum seekers held on a tiny Pacific Island are being driven to attempt suicide to escape the prison-like conditions they face in indefinite detention on behalf of Australia, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday. It also notes there is only one hospital available to the people held on Nauru, which is run by a private company contracted by the Australian government, and which Amnesty says is "ill-equipped to deal with serious emergencies".
Asylum seekers on Nauru have been free to roam around the tiny nation since a year ago.
The Federal Government sends asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to detention centres on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus. There are now about 1,159 refugees and asylum-seekers on the island, according to Amnesty, making up about 10 percent of its total population.
Amnesty International has accused Australia of running an open-air prison on the Pacific island nation. Many of them are barred from accepting citizenship in Australia, even if they are granted refugee status.
The Amnesty report chronicles dozens of sexual assaults and physical attacks from more than 1,150 asylum seekers and refugees living among 10,000 local residents on the tiny island of Naura, which lies some 2,500 miles (4,000 km) from Australia.
The treatment of refugees on Nauru is in breach of worldwide law and amounts to torture according to Amnesty global. She eventually set her family's dwelling on fire, and is now confined to a medical ward in a Refugee Processing Center.
Amnesty has released a new report, based on the accounts of 58 people on the island.
But many say they now feel less safe than they did in detention.
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"My daughter is losing her eyesight but there is no way to get glasses. She's crying, and she's not well", the man told NPR. "He said "If you don't like it, go back to your home country", they told Amnesty International".
Amnesty also reported on the arbitrary detention and abuse of detainees.
In interviews that were smuggled off the island, several children said they were too afraid to attend school because of levels of violence and sexual harassment directed at refugee children by locals.
The current Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has maintained that the government of Australia must ensure that its offshore "processing" regime is harsh.
"And the idea that Australia puts forth that this is a successful system is punitive", she added.
Amnesty joins a chorus of criticism of Australia's immigration policy from human rights groups, and comes just weeks after the United Nations said Nauru was failing to protect children.
'Their parents were talking about hiding everything, sharp objects, pills, and not allowing them to leave the house, because they were so anxious their children would end their lives, ' said Keistat, who spent six days in Nauru in August.
Over the weekend, Kingsley Woodford-Smith of the Australian department of immigration and border protection dismissed the complaints as "largely minor in nature or what a reasonable person would see as minor in nature", according to Australia broadcaster ABC.