Rape, torture "rife" at Papua New Guinea refugee camp

Featured Oceania - July 25th, 2013

Asylum seekers are raped and tortured at an Australian-run detention camp in Papua New Guinea, a former senior official at the center has alleged.

Rod St. George, the former head of occupational health and safety at the Manus Island facility, detailed what he said were grim conditions of asylum seekers resettled there.

He claimed acts of self-harm and attempted suicide were occurring “almost daily” on Manus Island.

Young men were assaulted and raped by fellow inmates, while others were beaten and forced to sew their lips together to protest conditions at the camp, he said.

“I’ve never seen human beings so destitute, so helpless and so hopeless before,” St. George told SBS television.

The allegations came just days after Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the facility would be massively expanded to accommodate 3,000 refugees from 600, as part of tough new measures on asylum seekers, reports AFP.

Under the new policy, asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia will be diverted to Manus Island and elsewhere in the Pacific nation for assessment.

Australian Immigration Minister Tony Burke on Wednesday described St. George’s claims as “horrific” and said he would fly to Manus Island to investigate.