Hunger strike self-harm claimed

ASYLUM-SEEKERS subject to the Malaysia Solution have entered their fourth day of a hunger strike on Christmas Island amid mounting incidents of self-harm among them.

Specially trained emergency response team guards yesterday rushed one of the asylum-seekers, a teenage Hazara girl, to a medical centre in the detention facility.

Refugee advocates said she had tried to kill herself by drinking something toxic but the Department of Immigration denied this and said it was a case of dehydration.

Women and children are among those in the group refusing food.

The emergency occurred as the second boatload of asylum-seekers slated for deportation to Malaysia arrived at Flying Fish Cove yesterday morning.

There are now 105 asylum-seekers on the island who are subject to expulsion under the people swap, in which 800 boatpeople will be sent to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 declared refugees.

The 50 new arrivals are mostly Afghans and include five males who say they are under 18, The Australian has been told.

There is one woman in the group.

Guards said many of the group had been banging their heads against walls as well as refusing food, water and medical attention.

Among those on hunger strike is a little boy who arrived on the island last Thursday and was pictured on the front pages of newspapers across Australia as he walked up the jetty with a smiling woman.

His name is Mohammed Ehssan Jaffari and he is seven years old, according to sources in the compound where he has been refusing to eat.

On the other side of the island, men due to be deported this morning have also been on a hunger strike.

Early this morning, Australian Federal Police are expected to collect the men from their compound, a modified unit in the island’s main detention centre with blacked-out windows, for a two-hour flight to Malaysia.

The plane that will take them has been under 24-hour guard since Saturday afternoon because of concerns it could be sabotaged.

A film crew will record the deportations for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to put on YouTube as a deterrent.

The Immigration Department said late on Friday it had no knowledge of a hunger strike among detainees due to be deported but has since acknowledged some are not eating.

“A small number of the group has now missed consecutive meals,” an Immigration Department spokeswoman said. “We are treating their welfare as a high priority and the detention services provider Serco is continuing to engage with those involved and encouraging them to eat and drink.”

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