Refugees harm selves on Nauru

TEN episodes of self-harm at the Nauru processing centre in 24 hours were a direct response to the government's decision to release thousands of recently arrived asylum seekers into the community, according to Nauru detainees.

The Immigration Department confirmed that four acts of self-harm on Tuesday night were followed by another two episodes on Wednesday, saying some of the men received treatment for superficial injuries at the centre and none were transferred to the island's hospital.

Another four incidents followed late in the afternoon, according to an asylum seeker. ''I cannot express what is happening here,'' the man said. ''Everyone is crying and saying, 'Why am I here?'''

Other asylum seekers said they could not accept they were being treated differently to those whose claims were to be processed on the mainland, when they arrived at the same time, and even on the same boats. ''Why are other friends going to the city [to] take visa while we are here in this worst conditions?'' one asked.

The incidents came as a customs vessel intercepted the 142nd boat to attempt to come to Australia since the government accepted all recommendations from its expert panel, including re-opening the centres on Nauru and Manus.

Some 13 people were on the boat, bringing the number to arrive since the announcement on August 13 to 8218.

Detainees on Nauru acknowledged concerns about the conditions of bridging visas that will be offered to those who arrived after August 13, but who cannot be accommodated at centres on Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island. But they could not understand why they were selected to go to Nauru.

They also asserted that those hurting themselves were suffering depression after being confined to the Nauru centre.

Meanwhile, an asylum seeker who has been on a hunger strike for 48 days remained in the Nauru hospital.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told Labor MPs this week the man would not be transferred to Australia, saying he receiving the best care possible in the circumstances.

A department spokesman said the 387 asylum seekers living in tents in the centre were receiving ''appropriate medical care''.

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