Refugee death in Australian detention on Manus Island sparks concern

Published 08.08.2017 00:05

An Iranian refugee held at an Australian immigration detention center on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island was confirmed dead by authorities yesterday, with fears that he might have taken his own life.

The Australian immigration department said it was aware of the death and that the Papua New Guinea authorities are investigating the matter. The exact circumstances surrounding the death were not known, but Behrouz Boochani, another Iranian refugee on Manus Island, said the man had hanged himself.

The body of the man was found by other refugees outside the facility, Boochani said on Twitter, claiming the Iranian man was previously known to have mental health issues. Despite being "very sick for a long time" and many refugees signing a letter to the health service provider eight months ago about his deteriorating state, "Australia did not provide medical treatment for him," Boochani said. According to Australian media, police confirmed the death, saying he was believed to have taken his own life.

The refugee is the fifth man held on Manus Island, and the seventh refugee in total, to have died in offshore processing center since the system was inaugurated by the Australian government in 2013.

Tensions are high on Manus Island, as authorities cut off water and electricity to some of the compounds at the center to move the detainees to a temporary residence ahead of its closure in October.

Despite criticism though, Australia's anti-illegal immigration policy is working. Australia is not facing dozens of boats on its shores every day much like Europe is, which has discouraged people, be they refugees or illegal immigrants, from making the treacherous journey on the Asian-Pacific waters.

Despite tragedies such as this Iranian refugee's apparent suicide, the Australian system has saved potentially thousands of lives by preventing crossings, as opposed to European Union policies, which have indirectly resulted in the deaths of some 10,000 in the Mediterranean Sea.

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