Pregnant asylum seekers on Nauru have been forced to create makeshift toilets and have decreased their water intake to avoid walking long distances, Save the Children has told a Senate inquiry.

A Senate inquiry is currently underway into allegations of sexual assault and conditions on Nauru. It was launched following the release of a review by former integrity commissioner Philip Moss, which substantiated some allegations of sexual abuse at Australia’s detention centre on the island.

A number of submissions made publicly available detail serious concerns about the care of vulnerable people on the island.

While the immigration department and Wilson Security have defended their role in the administration of the centre, Save the Children reported serious concerns in its submissions, and made a number of recommendations for the improvement of care.

It said in its submissions:

  • Pregnant women on Nauru have deliberately decreased their water intake, posing risks due to high temperatures on the island. In some cases Save the Children had been aware they had not received medical treatment due to difficulties in walking to the medical clinic. The submission also said no maternity clothing is made available to the women, instead forcing them to wear their husband’s clothes or trade with other asylum seekers.
  • Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers was a “piecemeal and incomplete policy response, aspects of which are driven more by political considerations than any desire to find a sustainable and humane approach”.
  • Young children and infants are forced to live in “cramped accommodation which can give rise to an increased risk of infection”. It recommended no further infants should be transferred to Nauru.

It also said it had been documenting allegations of sexual assaults and other incidents throughout 2013.

“Incidents of abuse and harm of asylum seekers at the Nauru RPC [regional processing centre] have been clearly documented since Save the Children first began providing services there in 2013. These events have been recorded by Save the Children in incident reports, through case notes and via other monitoring processes in accordance with guidelines and protocols at Nauru RPC,” the submission said.

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Pregnant asylum seekers on Nauru are not drinking to avoid walking long distances to go to bathroom and are creating makeshift toilets because of shocking facilities