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Mar 24, 2014|
Hundreds of children being held in an immigration center in Australia have described their living conditions as ‘hell’, a human rights group says.
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s report follows a visit to Australia's main immigration detention center on Christmas Island.
The commission reported that frustrated kids in the refugee camp are banging their heads, biting themselves and wetting their beds out of distress.
The rights team, which included a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist, has described conditions in the camp as disturbing.
"The overwhelming sense is of the enormous anxiety, depression, mental illness but particularly developmental retardation," media outlets quoted the commission President Gillian Triggs as saying."The children are stopping talking. You can see a little girl comes up to you and she is just staring at you but won't communicate," she added.
Some 315 children are being held at the detention center. Triggs noted that many of the drawings the children gave them depicted prisons.
"These children are actually identifying themselves by their numbers, not by their names, which is shocking in itself," she said.
The rights team added that the adults there were also in dire conditions, some suffering from enormous anxiety and mental illness.
The conservative government of Prime Minister Tony Abbot is facing criticism for its tough policy on immigrants and asylum-seekers.
Human Rights Watch has recently condemned Canberra’s “mandatory and indefinite” detention of asylum seekers in “offshore centers, where conditions are harsh and unsatisfactory and individuals get little help making their claims.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency has denounced the offshore detention centers as “harsh” facilities that “impact very profoundly” on the men, women and children housed there.