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Afghan asylum seeker dies in Australian migrant detention center

1 August 2015 18:14


An Afghan asylum seeker has died in an Australian detention center, bringing to light once again the dire conditions at the country’s immigration detention facilities.

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said in a statement that the man died on Friday night at the Yongah Hill immigration detention center, situated in the town of Northam in western Australia.

There was no immediate indication of suicide or suspicious circumstances, the statement added.

However, a fellow detainee, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the Afghan asylum seeker was sick and had been complaining about a heart problem over the past two weeks.

“They did not let him see a doctor … only gave him Panadol,” the detainee said, adding, “He said he couldn’t breathe … they let him die. Everyone is sad … but they (the authorities) don’t care.”

Meanwhile, Ian Rintoul, the spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, which is a community activist organization campaigning for the rights of refugees in Australia, said that the Afghan man may have died of a heart attack.

Rintoul further noted that the death of the asylum seeker has highlighted neglect and lack of medical care at Yongah Hill.

Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young also said that the death warranted a thorough investigation.

“We are hearing more and more cases of asylum seekers who are not receiving access to even the most basic level of health care,” she said, adding, “It is time for a thorough review of the health and welfare services across the detention network.”
The Afghan man, believed to be Mohammad Nasim Najafi, was in his twenties. He reportedly arrived at Christmas Island four years ago after his family was killed by the Taliban militant group.

In recent years, the Australian government has been under fire at home and abroad for its strict immigration policies and treatment of refugees, among them detaining asylum seekers in offshore facilities in inhumane conditions.

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