15 Feb 2015

Conditions at Nauru refugee centre 'shocking'

11:36 am on 15 February 2015

A Sydney paediatrician says he was shocked by conditions at Australia's refugee centre on Nauru, and is troubled by its impact on the children held there.

A small group of Muslim refugees pray at sunset while other refugees (background) participate in a football match at a camp for the asylum seekers on the small island of Nauru, 20 September 2001.

Asylum seekers on Nauru Photo: AFP

Professor David Isaacs, who visited Nauru recently, said the environment was harsh, and the treatment of the refugees was dehumanising.

Professor Isaacs said almost all the 119 children in the centre are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder to some degree.

"They've had behaviours problems or they were bed wetting.

"They were self harming, some of the children - I mean seriously self harming to a worrying degree and I saw them at the same time as a child psychiatrist who was concerned about a number of the children."

The Nauru camp was one of several set up by Australia to process refugees off-shore.

An Australian Human Rights Commission Report, called the Forgotten Children said conditions in such centres, including on Nauru and PNG's Manus Island, were unacceptable and they should be shut down.

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