Refugee flown to Australia months after Nauru 'rape'

NAURU: The barren and bankrupt island state of the Republic of Nauru awaits the arrival of 521 mainly Afghan refugees, 11 September 2001 which have been refused entry into Australia. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Australian would-be asylum seekers are taken to the Pacific island nation of Nauru

A young asylum seeker allegedly raped at a Nauru detention centre has been sent to Australia for treatment three months after the assault.

The government said the woman was flown from the Pacific island to Australia on Thursday, local media said.

Refugees who try to get to Australia by boat are detained in off-shore centres like the one on Nauru.

The family of the Iranian woman, 23, said she had harmed herself in the wake of the alleged attack.

"Given advice from our medical providers ... we've agreed that she should be transferred to Australia for medical care," Immigration Department secretary Michael Pezzullo told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC)

"The individual has been receiving appropriate medical and mental health support on Nauru," Mr Pezzullo said.

Australia' s border protection agency, the Australian Border Force, confirmed earlier this month it was aware of the incident and was taking the allegations seriously.

The ABC had earlier reported that in May the woman had left the Nauru centre to visit friends on the island and was raped as she returned to the camp.

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

Australia and asylum

  • The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey
  • To stop the influx, the government has adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under a new policy, they are processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG, Nauru or Cambodia
  • Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around

In 2001, Nauru signed an agreement with Australia to accommodate asylum seekers on the island, in return for millions of dollars in aid.

Australia ended its controversial "Pacific Solution" of detaining asylum seekers on islands in 2008, but reversed that decision and resumed the practice in September 2012, sparking fresh criticism from rights groups.

More on this story