'The United Nations and a group of Australian doctors have roundly criticized the Australian government over the dire conditions of refugees in off-shore detention centers on two Pacific islands.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Canberra accused Australia’s "bureaucrats and politicians" of overruling doctors and putting lives at risk at camps on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus.
Hundreds of people have been unlawfully held in detention on Nauru and Manus for up to nine years without charge, according to the UN.
Reports of catastrophic mental and physical health conditions experienced by the refugees, especially children, have brought Prime Minister Scott Morrison under intense pressure to allow sick children and their families into the country.
UN spokeswoman Catherine Stubberfield decried the Australian government's refugee detention policy as "sold too simplistically" and said changing it was now a matter of "basic human treatment and decency."
She said that the government "retains responsibility for those it has relocated under so-called 'offshore processing.'"
Eyewitnesses have reported a dire situation at the camps on Nauru, with many families living under constant fear of their loved ones committing suicide.
Doctors without Borders (MSF), which was forced to leave Nauru in October, reported on Monday that almost a third of the people it had treated on the Pacific island had reported attempted suicide.'
Read more: UN, doctors censure Australia over condition of off-shore refugees
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