There is a medical emergency on Nauru, where many physically and mentally ill refugees are being detained without proper medical treatment, according to Kathy, a refugee on the Pacific island. She added that many refugees, including children, have attempted suicide due to the loss of hope and that some had been jailed for doing so.
Kathy made her comments via phone to an October 15 forum organised by the Refugee Action Collective.
Natasha Blucher, a former Save the Children worker on Nauru who now works for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, addressed the "mental health crisis" on the island.
Blucher spoke of the dehumanising treatment of refugees who are addressed by their boat ID, not their name. This applies to adults and children. Refugees also have to wait in long lines for food, showers and other needs.
Blucher said 38 critically ill children have been brought to Australia, but only after court cases resulting in injunctions. There are 28 similar cases before the courts.
According to Blucher, children as young as seven years old have swallowed sharp objects.
Katie Shafar, a nurse who worked on Nauru, told the meeting that refugees are suffering from malnutrition due to the high price of food on the island. She said families are being split up when children are taken off the island with their mothers for medical treatment while fathers are left behind.