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Issue #1705      October 7, 2015

Nauru: Young refugees attacked

Two 18 year-old refugees have been attacked on Nauru.

The attack took place around 11.30pm on Wednesday, September 30 as the two refugees returned to their camp at Ewa. The two men, an Afghan refugee, and Zijah, a Pakistani refugee, were ambushed as they were walking into the Ewa refugee camp, by up to 12 local Nauruan men.

Along with the abuse hurled at the refugees, the attackers demanded money and stole their mobile phones.

Zijah was left with severe cuts on his knee, his hand as well as extensive bruising and scratches on his back from being knocked to the ground.

The Ewa camp has also been the site of a rape and a number of attacks on single refugee women. A local witness to the attack called the police to the scene.

The boys themselves later went to the police station to make a statement. They also went to the hospital for treatment for the cuts and abrasions, when the ambulance failed to attend the scene of the attack.

“This has got to stop,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “The situation on Nauru is badly out of control. The safety of the refugees cannot be guaranteed.

“There is no security in the community or the refugee camps. There is no lighting. The government has simply created camps where single women and young refugees are preyed upon with impunity.”

Responding to the announcement that the Nauru government intends to create an “open camp” arrangement for asylum seekers. Ian Rintoul, said, “The vicious attacks on refugee women in the community and these latest bashings make the ‘open camp’ arrangement a meaningless gesture. The Australian government is trying to avoid elements of the M68 case before the High Court starting on October 7.

“Some people found to be refugees are just too afraid to leave the detention centre. One Iranian refugee was savagely raped in May while she was in the community under the open camp arrangement.”

There have been increased threats against refugees on Nauru , following the broadcast of the ABC’s 7.30 program last week highlighting recent alleged incidents of rape on the island.

On Tuesday September 29, one Somali refugee was approached and threatened by two local men who told her, “We will kill you. We know you. Do not make stories.”

Others have reported increased abuse and threatening gestures. There are also reports that two refugees have been sacked from their jobs this morning because of the ABC program.

The ABC program on sexual assault allegations on Nauru has lifted the lid on the scale of abuse women are suffering on Nauru. Urgent action is needed in both cases highlighted by the program.

In one case, the Australian government, Border Force and the medical provider on Nauru IHMS has ignored the request for a termination by a 23 year-old Somali woman who became pregnant after a sexual assault. She is now 10 weeks pregnant.

“The need for action by the government to meet her request grows more urgent by the day,” said Ian Rintoul. “Despite her requesting a termination for weeks, the woman is now 10 weeks pregnant.

“It is simply unbelievable that health authorities have not acted sooner. She is in a fragile state, yet those who have a duty of care are recklessly playing with her mental and physical health.”

The woman known as “Najma”, also should be brought to Australia immediately.

“Najma lives in daily terror,” said Ian Rintoul, “Like other refugee women in the community on Nauru, she is completely vulnerable. Many of the refugee houses are remote; have no lighting and no security. Like so many others, the perpetrators of her assault remain at large. Their houses are not secure; the door locks can be, and often are, slipped with a knife blade, leaving them exposed to assault and theft.

“Many of the Somali women refugees on Nauru have been found to be refugees because they have been victims of sexual abuse.

“Najma was held captive by a rebel Somali group in 2004 and 2005 and was sexually assaulted and abused over those two years and her suffering didn’t stop then.” Rather than finding protection on Nauru, Najma is facing the same kind of persecution she faced in Somalia.

Rintoul pointed out that the government has been aware of the shocking rate of sexual abuse on Nauru for a long time. One Iranian rape victim was kept on Nauru from May until August before finally being brought to Australia. She is still waiting for her family to join her.

“The Australian government has created a living hell for Najma and others on Nauru. Nauru is not safe, and must be closed. Malcolm Turnbull has made concern about domestic violence a hallmark of the new government. The violence against women on Nauru is as bad as the domestic violence in Australia. It is violence that the government is ultimately responsible for.

“The Prime Minister has the power to immediately to end the violence against the refugee women on Nauru. The only question is, will he?”

Next article – Turnbull’s women’s agenda under question

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