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New Arrivals In Nauru Join Refugee Hunger Strike
Nearly 75% of 386 asylum seekers refusing food

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 13, 2012) – Asylum seekers at Australia's processing centre on Nauru says 24 new arrivals have joined their hunger strike.

The group - comprised of men from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka - was transferred from the northern Australian city of Darwin yesterday.

There are now 386 people at the facility, and asylum seekers say 305 of them are refusing food.

Australia's immigration department has disputed that figure, and said that the actual number is much lower.

Life-threatening

Most of hunger strikers stopped eating on November 1, but one man - an Iranian known as 'Omid' - has gone 33 days without food.

One of the asylum seekers, Said Muhammad, told the ABC that Omid's was becoming increasingly weak.

"He is lying in a bed day and night. He is not even able to walk properly," he said.

The immigration department maintain that the hunger strike is in a "stable" condition and that doctors are monitoring him closely.

However, Louise Newman, a professor of psychology at Monash University in Melbourne, told the ABC that Omid's condition and that of the other hunger strikers would be deteriorating fast.

"We will start to see suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviours," she said.

Amnesty visit

Amnesty International has said it is highly concerned about the ongoing hunger-strike and will send two experts to Nauru next week.

They will visit the processing centre to speak to asylum seekers, Australian immigration officials, health and aid workers, and representatives of Nauru's Government.

Dr Graham Thom, the watchdog's refugee spokesperson and refugee policy expert, said the Australian immigration department has facilitated visits to its other centres in the past, and he is currently working with them to finalise the details for meetings on Nauru.

"It's not a secretive investigation or anything like that," Dr Thom told ABC Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

"We really want to be very transparent, but we want to see firsthand what's going on, what is the situation and what's happening on the ground, how are people being treated, what are the conditions that's facing them day-to-day and obviously look into concerns around hunger strikes and other things that we're hearing in the media."

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
Copyright 2012 Radio Australia. All Rights Reserved


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