24 Dec 2003

Refugee advocate concerned that a hunger striker on Nauru could die soon

2:14 pm on 24 December 2003

A refugee advocate in Australia says he's concerned that one of the hunger strikers in Nauru will die.

Geoff Smith says he's briefed regularly from sources on Nauru who say that about 40 people have joined the protest since December 10th.

The mainly Afghani strikers are voicing their opposition to being kept on the island for more than two years.

Mr Smith says about 15 hunger strikers are currently in hospital care, but it varies, as some go back on strike again.

He says he is really concerned about the situation.

"We are afraid that somebody is going to die fairly soon, a lot of them are in quite lot of pain, they collapse to unconsciousness every now and then, and they are taken to hospital and then they come back again to join the hunger strike, it's a terrible situation, as you can imagine, it's under the equatorial heat in Nauru."

Geoff Smith.

The Australian immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has received a briefing from two envoys sent to Nauru on Monday to examine conditions facing the asylum seekers.