Christmas Island detainee: 'We are all suffering'


According to an immigration department spokesperson, there are currently 275 people housed in eight tents in two separate immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island. One of the detained refugees spoke to Green Left Weekly's Niko Leka about living conditions there. He asked that his name not be used as he was afraid it would affect his visa application.

Is it very crowded?

Each room has three people. The rooms are too small for a cupboard, chair or table. We put our dresses and things into small boxes.

What about toilets, showers and washing?

We have 18 toilets and 18 showers. They are always full. The toilets are cleaned only once a day. Most of us are affected by skin disease. We only have two washing machines and driers. Serco [the private prisons company that runs the detention centre] gives us very little washing powder.

What are the eating arrangements like?

We have only two dining rooms. There are two toasters, two microwave ovens, and four refrigerators. So it is very difficult to use. We are in the queue in the morning. Serco gives food but … it is not enough for everyone.

What is the telephone access like?

We have four telephones, but they do not work continuously. Every 10 minutes they are cut automatically, so we can't talk for a long time.

What about internet?

We have only two computers for 150 people.

Can you get to see a doctor when you need to?

We don't have any medical staff. If we want to meet the doctor we have to make an appointment early, but even when we put in many requests, they don't consider it. Many of us are still waiting for treatment.

What about things to pass the time?

We have two televisions, one DVD player and only one pool table. When the Ombudsman visited here they allowed us to go to the oval and go swimming but since then they don't allow us.

We have been here for months. We can't stay here, we are all suffering, we can't manage this situation. If you able to help us could you please do it as soon as possible.

[If you would like to help, the Refugee Action Coalition can use donations to provide phone credit to detainees. Please make a direct deposit to: Refugee Action Coalition, Commonwealth Bank: BSB 062018, Acc No 10118562. Please let RAC know about your donation at the RAC website.]

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