Eyewitnesses have collaborated and called for the improvement of the Nauru Australian Immigration Detention Centre’s living conditions, facilitated by the Abbott and Nauruan governments
Almost 60 people gathered to hear about the “rudimentary” conditions asylum seekers encounter in Nauru, at the Refugee Action Collective’s public forum in Melbourne.
Mark Isaacs was a caseworker for the Salvation Army in Nauru for almost nine months and said the centre was “purposefully disorganised” to meet the needs of asylum seekers and workers.
“The centre was purposely underprepared to meet these men’s needs,” Mr Isaacs said.
Mr Isaacs said the Salvation Army had “no mission brief” when he arrived on the island.
“We were thrown, without guidance into a camp of angry depressed men,” he said.
“We were literally told to ‘go out and help the men,” he said.
Mr Isaccs’ newly released book, The Undesirables, acts as an exposé of the centre’s conditions and operations.
Former Nauru refugee Mohammad Ali Baqiri was a 10-year old boy from Afghanistan when he arrived at the detention centre.
“Diseases like dingy and malaria would spread, there was a lack of medical treatment,” Mr Baqiri said.
“The heat was over 40 degrees, no air-conditioning or anything,” he said.
Mr Baqiri spoke about the need for a basic education system for children in the detention immigration centre.
“In those three years I [in detention] I could have done three years of primary school,” Mr Baqiri said.
“Those children in the detention centre, take them out of there and give them some form of education,” he said.
Samira Savagati is currently in Australia on a bridging visa whose parents and sister have been in Nauru for 10 months after fleeing religious persecution in Iran.
“People stop eating, they stop drinking just to avoid going to the toilet,” Ms Savagati said.
Speaking on ABC’s Radio Australia on April 23, media personality and former Nauru government media advisor Rod Henshaw said the detention centre’s asylum seekers have “better conditions than any Nauruan will have.”
“They get 24/7 electricity, which we don’t have the privilege of having most times.”
“They’ve got internet capability, they’ve got communications,” he said.
“They get better food, it’s all flown in for them,” Mr Henshaw said.
The Nauruan government has denied several concerned human rights groups access to the centre.
Amnesty International is the latest organisation to have their request for a tour rejected.