Pregnant asylum-seeker Abyan to fly from Nauru to Australia again

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A placard reading 'close Australia's concentration camps' is held up during a rally in support of refugees in central SydneyImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Australia's bid for a seat in the UN's Human Rights Council has been overshadowed by the controversy

A pregnant Somali woman who says she was raped in Australia's refugee detention camp in Nauru is to be flown back to Australia.

She was previously flown from the island to Australia to have an abortion, but was flown back without having had it, a few days later.

Authorities said she changed her mind about the procedure, but the woman, known as Abyan, denied this.

Australia refuses to accept refugees attempting to reach it by boat.

They are kept in camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea while their claims are processed. Even those found to be genuine refugees are resettled outside Australia.

Abortion is legal but heavily restricted on both Nauru and Papua New Guinea, hence the need for the woman to fly to Australia.

Earlier on Wednesday, the United Nations urged Australia to provide "a decent option" for the woman, who it said was "in a very fragile mental and physical condition". The Australian government says it will provide counselling when she is in the country, though it declined to be specific on when that might be.

Abyan's lawyers said she was returned to Nauru the first time just for wanting counselling and more time to make up her mind, not because she had decided against an abortion. The head of the Australian Human Rights Commission described the case as "extraordinary".

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Australia's detention centre is one of impoverished Nauru's main sources of income

It comes as the Philippines says it will not accept refugees sent by Australia unless they are only there temporarily.

President Benigno Aquino, responding to an Australian proposal to resettle refugees in the country, pointed out that his country was far more populous than Australia and had difficulties providing for its own population.

Australia is one of the world's richest countries, whereas roughly a quarter of the Philippines' approximately 100 million people live in deep poverty.

Mr Aquino also noted that after the Philippines agreed to host Vietnam War refugees temporarily in the 1970s, hundreds of thousands ended up staying for many years.

Australia currently has an multi-million dollar agreement with another developing nation, Cambodia, to resettle refugees there. But so far only four have made the move, despite offers of cash and free accommodation.