Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Suicide attempts surge in Australia’s refugee camps after elections

Suicide attempts surge in Australia’s refugee camps after elections

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A refugee advocate protests against asylum-seeker camps in Sydney. The issue has long been a political football in the country. AFP

Suicide attempts surge in Australia’s refugee camps after elections

At least four refugees in Australia’s offshore Pacific camps have attempted suicide since the conservative government’s shock re-election on Saturday, according to refugees, advocates and police.

Around 800 would-be refugees who tried to reach Australia have been sent to live in severe conditions on the remote islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus under a hardline policy from Canberra.

Many had prayed for a more lenient policy from Labor, who had been strongly tipped to win.

But an unexpected victory by Scott Morrison’s centre-right coalition dashed hopes and set off a wave of self-harm including several hospitalisations.

Prominent Kurdish author and asylum-seeker Behrouz Boochani tweeted from Manus: “The situation in Manus is out of control, today two more people attempted suicide.”

Manus Provincial Police Commander David Yapu said he was aware of at least 10 suicide attempts including four over the weekend.

“It’s an issue we are faced with right now,” he said.

“Over the weekend we had an attempted arson of their rooms, and right now we have some that are refusing to eat.”

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.

The opposition Labor party had said they would be open to a New Zealand offer to resettle refugees on Manus and Nauru.

The UN and human rights organisations have roundly condemned the conservative government’s policy.

“We have run out of vocabulary to describe the harm wrought,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra said in December.

Activists said the election was a breaking point.

“It has been building for six years, but the weekend’s election result has precipitated a crisis that the government cannot afford to ignore,” said Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.

Rintoul said men fleeing violence or persecution in Sudan, Iraq and Iran had attempted to hang or set fire to themselves.

“Offshore detention is slowly strangling the life out of its victims,” he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • PM: All 10 Asean countries to receive Rainsy arrest warrants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday that all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states will receive warrants for the arrest of Sam Rainsy. The warrants have already been sent to Laos and Thailand. He was speaking at a joint press conference at

  • Human rights report biased, says Cambodia

    Cambodia has accused the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday of having “undermined the principle of objectivity”. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN said the Office of the

  • Kingdom okays 2,400MW power purchase from Laos

    A cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided that the government will purchase 2,400MW of electricity from Laos. A briefing document uploaded by government spokesman Phay Siphan to his Facebook page confirmed this. It said Cambodia will buy exclusive power from two coal-fired power plants in Laos –

  • CNRP activists arrested for ‘plotting insecurity’

    Three activists for the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court after they were arrested for their alleged involvement in an overseas-organised plot to mobilise demonstrations and cause insecurity. National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said the