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Nauru asylum seeker sets herself alight

Do Not UseDo Not Use 2/05/2016
An aerial photograph of Nauru: The world's smallest republic: Australia sends asylum seekers to a detention centre on the island nation of Nauru © Getty Images Australia sends asylum seekers to a detention centre on the island nation of Nauru

A Somali woman seeking asylum in Australia has set herself on fire in protest at her detention at a centre on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Grey line © BBC Grey line

The 21-year-old suffered critical injuries after covering herself in fuel and setting herself alight.

Last week, a 23-year-old Iranian died after setting himself alight at the same facility.

Nauru is one of several off-shore detention centres for asylum seekers operated by Australia.

Human rights groups have strongly criticised Australia's policies towards asylum seekers.

Papua New Guinea last week announced it was closing a similar detention centre, at Manus Island, after its Supreme Court ruled it was illegal.

Australia asylum: Why is it controversial?

What next for Manus Island asylum seekers?

The young Somali woman is believed to have recently returned to Nauru, having been treated in Australia for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on the island, Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said.

She is reportedly being treated on the island for burn injuries, and a request for a transfer to Australia for medical treatment has been made.

Mr Rintoul was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying there was "an epidemic of self-harm at Nauru".

A 23-year-old man known as Omid died in a Brisbane hospital on Friday, four days after setting himself alight in what the Nauru authorities said was a "political protest".

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has admitted there have been incidents of self-harm on the small Pacific island.

"What we've been very clear about is that if people come to Australia for medical assistance they'll be returning back to Nauru once that medical assistance has been provided," he said.

He has also suggested that some of the 850 detainees at Manus Island may be moved to Nauru. They will not be allowed to come to Australia, he has said.

Australia and asylum

The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey.

To stop the influx, the government adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent.

Everyone who arrives is detained. Under the policy, asylum seekers are processed offshore at centres on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

The government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around.

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