Asylum seeker dies after self-immolation in Australian camp


An Iranian asylum seeker has died two days after setting himself alight in an Australian detention center on the remote Pacific island of Nauru. The 23-year-old man was first treated at Nauru Hospital before being flown by air ambulance Brisbane, Australia, where he died in hospital from his injuries, according to a statement from Australia's immigration department. "Appropriate support is being provided to his wife and friends," the statement said. The man, named as Omid, had been held for three years in the Australian center on Nauru, according to the Asylum Seeker Resource Center.

The camp is one of two offshore centers where asylum seekers are detained while their claims are processed. The other one is on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG).


Earlier this week, the PNG government announced that the Manus Island detention center would be shut down after the country's Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal. Around 900 men are currently being held on the island, while around 300 families, including dozens of children are being held on Nauru.


The Australian government says the number of children in immigration detention centers dropped steadily between 2013 and 2015. However, numbers have leveled off since February 2015.


On average, detainees spend 445 days in detention facilities while their claims are processed, according to government figures.


The conditions endured by children at the Nauru detention facility have been the subject of a government inquiry, which investigated claims of sexual and physical abuse.


The Moss Review found that many asylum seekers in the detention center were apprehensive about their personal safety. It found that some instances of sexual and physical assault were not being reported.


The Australian government accepted all 19 recommendations made in the report. Immigration Minister Peter Dutton vowed to tighten security at the center, saying “I find the thought of anybody, in particular children, being sexually assaulted completely abhorrent”.


An image on the Facebook site "Free the Children NAURU," uploaded in November, 2015, shows a small child with a tally of how many days she's been in detention on the small Pacific island.


According to the most recent Australian government figures, 537 people were being held in the Nauru detention center at December 30, 2015. Of those, 68 were children.


Of the 1,792 people being held in Australian immigration facilities, 23.2% had been held for more than 730 days, or more than two years.


The children are being held on Nauru while their families’ claims for asylum are processed. Many fled war-torn countries and entered Australian waters by boat. The Australian government says they’ll never be resettled in the country.


Australia reopened its controversial offshore processing centers in 2012, after a surge in arrivals of unseaworthy boats. In 2013, families with children were transferred to Nauru until their claims could be processed.


An inquiry by the Australian government's own human rights commission in 2014 concluded that "children on Nauru are suffering from extreme levels of physical, emotional, psychological and developmental distress."


Campaigners have urged the Australian government to close the centers and transfer the detainees to Australia.


The government imposed its policy of offshore detention after a sharp rise in the number of boats crammed with asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters.


Between 2007 and 2013, the Australian government says at least 1,200 people lost their lives trying to make the treacherous sea journey. It says that its strict immigration policy is saving lives.