Australia

Former staff demand closure of Australia detention centres

Asylum seeker children on Nauru Image copyright Amesty International
Image caption Asylum seeker children hold up signs protesting their resettlement on Nauru

More than 100 former employees from Australia's offshore detention centres have called for asylum seekers to be brought to the mainland.

The staff worked with detainees held on the Pacific island of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

A signed letter from the workers argues that Australia must work to resettle refugees held in these centres.

It follows the Guardian's publication of more than 2,000 leaked reports from the immigration centre on Nauru.

The "incident reports" revealed widespread abuse and trauma among children and women at the centre.

'Untenable situation'

The former detention centre employees argue that the only way to secure the safety of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island is to immediately bring them to Australia.

"It's an untenable situation for it to remain the way it is," said Toby O'Brien, a former child protection officer for Save the Children.

Many of the staff say that they have already given evidence to several investigations.

"Inquiries and so on are not really relevant to addressing the issue right now because quite a number of adults and children are at immediate risk of harm on the island," Mr O'Brien told the BBC.

"By the time these inquiries are finished and recommendations are implemented it's highly likely that more people have been harmed."

Reports dismissed

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says there will be no change to Australia's 'robust' border protection

The news comes at the government confirmed it had repatriated a group of six Sri Lankans attempting to reach Australia by boat.

"Our Sri Lankan partners provided advice that this vessel might be targeting Australia so we were ready and waiting to locate and detain the boat," Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said.

The immigration minister last week accused asylum seekers of setting themselves on fire, deliberately self-harming and making false allegations of sexual assault to get to Australia.

'Fabricated' claims

Image copyright Amnesty International
Image caption More than 400 asylum seekers remain in cramped tents on Nauru

The government of Nauru said on Monday most incidents detailed in the cache of files were "fabricated" and accused Australian media and politicians of using refugees as political pawns.

"Most refugee & advocate claims on Nauru fabricated to achieve goal to get to Aus. So called 'reports' based solely on these claims #fact," it wrote on Twitter.

"Aust left wing media, greens MPs and advocates still using refugees as pawns for their political agendas. Very sad."

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Media captionA rare voice from inside the Nauru detention centre

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