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He's The Last Man Standing On Refugee Island And Costs Australia 8m A Year
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 10-6-2006 | Nick Squires

Posted on 10/05/2006 6:26:40 PM PDT by blam

He's the last man standing on refugee island and costs Australia £8m a year

By Nick Squires in Sydney
(Filed: 06/10/2006)

He is possibly the loneliest refugee in the world and he is being maintained at a cost of £8 million a year.

Mohammed Sagar has spent the past five years living in a detention camp on Nauru, a sun-baked rock in the middle of the south Pacific.

He was one of 1,500 refugees from the Middle East and Afghanistan sent to the near-bankrupt republic under Australia's so-called Pacific Solution to boatloads of people fleeing their homelands.

They were intercepted by the navy trying to reach Australia in rickety fishing boats in 2001 and 2002 and sent to Nauru, an eight-square mile blob just south of the equator.

The vast majority of the asylum seekers have either been granted refugee status and settled in other countries, or sent back to their homes.

Until recently only two remained: Sagar, 30, a Shia Muslim from Najaf in Iraq, and another Iraqi refugee named Mohammad Faisal, 26, who last month became suicidal and was evacuated to a hospital in Brisbane.

Sagar was then on his own, with only Australian officials and security guards for (non-verbal) company and the occasional Nauruan government official. There are now fears that Sagar is also beginning to lose his mind.

He has set up a website to document his incarceration, www.leftonnauru.com, which includes pictures of the deserted refugee camp he inhabits. "Can you imagine how horrible this nightmare is?" he writes. "Just imagine that you are alone in a place where you can't even find anybody to talk to.

"Detention … means that you do not own your life any more, or in other words, you can't feel alive any more."

Sagar lives in a small cabin outside the gates of the refugee camp. He is free to wander the island and has even worked part-time as a computer technician at a local college. Many Nauruans feel sorry for him. He was studying microbiology in Iraq but says he had to flee in 1997 because of persecution by Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime.

Sagar is stuck in legal limbo — although judged to be a genuine refugee by Australian immigration authorities, the country's intelligence agencies have ruled that he is "a risk to national security".

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has given no reason for its assessment and yesterday declined to answer questions on the case.

Not only will Australia not accept Sagar as a refugee, the ruling acts as a deterrent to any other nation throwing open its doors.

This week, Australia's opposition Labour Party called for the refugee camp on Nauru, which costs £8 million annually to maintain, to be closed.

Australia's third party, the Democrats, also condemned the treatment of the two refugees.

"This is literally like something out of a Franz Kafka novel," Andrew Bartlett, the deputy leader, said.

"They can't go back to Iraq, they can't go to any other country, they can't appeal the security assessment, and they can't even find out what it's about. I think that would drive anybody crazy."

Even Nauru, a former British colony devastated by decades of phosphate strip mining and which now relies on the detention centre as its main source of income, is frustrated with the situation and wants to see Sagar released.


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 8m; australia; island; last; man; million; nauru; refugee; standing; year
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To: blam; nuconvert

I just noticed something.

Since this article was written in "The Telegraph UK" and as this article suggests Nauru to be a British Colony (even an ex one!), perhaps, the UK would be kind enough to take to give this refugee man a home rather than harp about it.


21 posted on 10/06/2006 7:14:00 PM PDT by odds
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