At least four refugees in Australia's offshore Pacific camps have attempted suicide since the conservative government's shock re-election Saturday, according to refugees, advocates and police. Around 800 would-be refugees who tried reach Australia have been sent to live in severe conditions on the remote islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus under a hardline policy from Canberra. These are two Pacific islands where Australia detains hundreds of asylum seekers intercepted while trying to reach the country by boat, a policy widely criticized by the U.N. and rights groups.
Many refugees had prayed for a more lenient policy from Labor, who had been strongly tipped to win. But an unexpected victory by Scott Morrison's center-right coalition has dashed hopes and set off a wave of self-harm including several hospitalizations.
Over 2,000 asylum-seekers have arrived at Manus and Nauru since the offshore centers were reopened in 2012. They have arrived from all over the world, many fleeing war or persecution from places like Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Conditions in the Nauru camp, and another facility on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, have been criticized by the United Nations and human rights groups.
Australia has stopped publishing data on the number of refugees held in both centers. Refugee advocates estimate 600 people are detained on Manus Island and a further 500 on Nauru. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) earlier said it expected the humanitarian crisis to get worse as a refugee swap deal with the United States drags on. The U.S. government said in 2016 it would accept up to 1,250 refugees but fewer than 500 have been resettled.
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