24 Dec 2003

Refugee advocate says a hunger striker on Nauru could die soon

2:14 pm on 24 December 2003

A refugee advocate in Australia says there's concern that a hunger striker will die on Nauru soon and the situation is having a negative impact on the country's reputation.

Geoff Smith says the government doesn't appear to be willing to back down despite the hunger strikers now numbering 40 people.

And, he says some of them are in pain as they have been on their hunger strike since December 10th and there are concerns that some of them are so weak that they will die.

Mr Smith says the situation is harming Australia's image.

"The image of Australia I think is really going down hell, what we are doing is very shameful, but I think our government is not going to change their policy, I'm very afraid of that. They certainly should change the policy and do something about the situation in Nauru just from humanitarian ground."

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.