14 Dec 2012

UNHCR chides Australia over its Nauru camp

5:46 pm on 14 December 2012

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is highly critical of the asylum seeker camp set up by Australia on Nauru and is calling for changes.

A UNHCR team visited Nauru last week and the regional representative, Richard Towle, says the inmates face a toxic combination, with the legal uncertainty, the delays in their refugee processing and the harsh environment.

He says immediate changes are needed, especially better information about what is happening to them.

"There is a high degree of confusion amongst people who are held there. They don't know how long they are going to be there. Many don't have a sense of what the purpose of the process is, the timeframes available to them. Nor do they have any idea at all as to how long the might remain after they have been through the process. So this high degree of uncertainty in the legal system and in physical life that is extremely harsh and difficult for people at the moment is a very difficult and toxic combination for them."