Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's
office said that medical officers at the center had confirmed three
cases of the potentially fatal tropical disease, which is
transmitted by mosquitoes.
Two of those affected by the sickness are potential refugees
awaiting processing, while the other was a member of staff working
at the center, they said.
"All three people have been isolated and are receiving appropriate
treatment and are expected to make a full recovery," a spokeswoman
for Morrison said in a statement.
But Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, immigration spokeswoman from the
opposition Greens Party, said that outbreaks are inevitable in
crowded camps like the one on Nauru and called for greater
independent oversight of the overseas refugee detention system.
"The government can't control these types of outbreaks in the harsh
detention camp environment. With seven families to a tent, it's
impossible to keep children safe from the disease,"
she said in a statement.
Australia uses detention centers in Nauru and on Manus Island in
Papua New Guinea to process would-be refugees sent there after
trying to get to Australia, often in unsafe boats after paying
people smugglers in Indonesia.
Canberra's tough stance on asylum seekers, including offshore
processing and a blanket ban on people arriving by boat ever
settling in Australia, has been criticized by the United Nations and
other groups as illegal and inhumane.
[to top of second column]
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in a November report said
neither center had a "fair and efficient system for assessing
refugee claims" nor provided "safe and humane conditions of
treatment in detention".
Nauru in particular has come under fire after President Baron
Waqa earlier this year unilaterally sacked the nation's entire
judiciary, one aspect of what critics have called a creeping
Critics say that Australia has been unusually silent about
developments in Nauru in order to ensure that the camp, which is
vital to its immigration policy, stays open.
In February, a riot at the detention center on Manus Island in Papua
New Guinea left at least one asylum seeker dead and 77 more injured.
(Reporting by Matt Siegel; editing by Michael Perry)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.