A Horrific Look Into Australia's Immigration 'War Zone'
"He needed mental health assistance, and got nothing. He is a victim of neglect"
It has been yet another horrific week in Australia's immigration detention regime, with one detainee in hospital after self-harming, a riot and fire breaking out in a centre, a woman on Nauru swallowing razor blades, and children in the offshore facility continuing to deteriorate with a rare psychological condition.
Refugee advocates had earlier claimed an Iraqi man had died at the Yongah Hill detention centre near Perth on Sunday night. A riot broke out in the facility following the news, with a fire starting and several buildings damaged.
Footage posted online by a Twitter user claiming to be a detainee in Yongah Hill showed several buildings well alight and other detainees climbing fences.
However, the Australian Border Force told ten daily reports of the man's death were not correct, and as of Monday morning, he remained alive in hospital.
"There has not been a death at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). A detainee from Yongah Hill IDC was taken to hospital last night and is currently receiving appropriate medical care. We cannot comment further on individual cases," an ABF spokesperson said in a statement.
Refugee advocates told ten daily the man was found in his cell around 5.30pm on Sunday. The Refugee Action Coalition claimed the man had "some history of mental distress" and had attempted suicide twice last week. The RAC claimed the man had attempted self-harm earlier on Sunday and was taken to hospital, but was soon returned to the detention centre, where he was later found having self-harmed again.
“This is a shocking story,” said Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition on Sunday, when it was believed the man had died.
"There was more than warning. He should not have been in Yongah Hill. He needed mental health assistance, and got nothing. He is a victim of neglect."
Reports of the man's death on Sunday led to anger in the centre, culminating in a demonstration from other detainees which saw several buildings set on fire.
"Detainees in Yongah Hill are angry, saying that his pleas for help were ignored, and that he was treated like 'a piece of rubbish'," Rintoul said, claiming 150 detainees were handcuffed as authorities attempted to restore order to the facility.
"A disturbance by a small number of detainees at Yongah Hill IDC has now ended. All detainees and staff are safe and accounted for and there have been no reported injuries," the ABF spokesperson said.
It was the most visible example of the anger felt by many in Australia's immigration regime. On Nauru, health professionals and refugee advocacy groups say many refugees are experiencing resignation syndrome -- a rare and life-threatening trauma-induced psychiatric condition leading to withdrawal from all activities including eating, drinking and socialising.
In recent weeks, a 12-year-old girl attempted to set herself on fire, while other youths are sick after refusing to eat or drink for weeks. The Guardian reported up to 20 children are in this situation.
This past weekend, advocates warned at least one woman had swallowed razor blades in a self-harm attempt, while others are said to be swallowing stones or self-harming in other ways.
There are more than 100 children of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, and a coalition of more than 30 organisations is pleading for Australia to remove all children and their families from the island.
The ongoing issues in Australia's immigration system are barely raising a whisper in federal politics however, with little attention devoted to the ongoing health crisis on Nauru and elsewhere.
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