Asylum Seeker Held by Australia Found Dead on Manus Island
A Sri Lankan asylum seeker being held in an Australian-run detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, has been found dead.
The 32-year-old Tamil man was being treated for mental illness in a hospital near the center and the BBC reports that his death is suspected to have been a suicide. He is the ninth detainee to have died while being held offshore by Australia since 2013, and the sixth at the Manus detention center.
Australia’s practice of confining refugees and asylum seekers who try to enter Australia by boat on Manus Island and the Pacific nation of Nauru has been criticized by human rights advocates and the U.N.
Australia pledged to shut down the Manus detention center by the end of October following a ruling by the Papua New Guinea court that it is unconstitutional for Australia to detain people there.
Many of the refugees hope to be accepted for asylum in the U.S. under a deal brokered by Australia in the final weeks of the Obama administration, which recently saw the first refugees reach the U.S.
HRW: Iran Recruited Afghan Children to Fight in Syria
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has recruited Afghan children living in the country to fight in Syria, Human Rights Watch said.
The human rights group said minors, some as young as 14, were sent to Syria along with other Afghans in support of Syrian government forces.
Human Rights Watch researchers identified the graves of eight Afghan child soldiers in Iran and said Iranian media reports indicated at least six other children had died in the war.
Some of their relatives said the children had misrepresented their age to join Iran’s Fatemiyoun division of Afghan fighters.
“Rather than preying on vulnerable immigrant and refugee children, the Iranian authorities should protect all children and hold those responsible for recruiting Afghan children to account,” Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson, said.
U.N. Cuts Food Rations for Refugees in Kenya
The U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) says it will reduce food rations by 30 percent for more than 400,000 refugees living in camps throughout Kenya due to a shortfall in funding.
WFP needs $28.5 million for food aid over the next six months. The agency warned the cuts may cause a rise in malnutrition levels. Kenya hosts nearly half a million registered refugees, mainly from Somalia but many also from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Cutting rations is a last resort and we hope that it is only a short-term measure as we continue to appeal to the international community to assist,” said Annalisa Conte, WFP’s top official in Kenya. “An abrupt halt to food assistance would be devastating for the refugees, most of whom rely fully on WFP for their daily meals.”
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