Nauru refugee who set himself on fire dies in Brisbane hospital

An Iranian refugee who set himself on fire at the Nauru detention centre has died in a Brisbane hospital, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed.

The 23-year-old Iranian known as Omid was airlifted to Brisbane yesterday with third-degree burns to most of his torso.

In a statement, Mr Dutton said that “appropriate support” was being provided to his wife and friends of the man.

“The man was taken to Republic of Nauru Hospital for medical treatment by the Nauruan authorities,” he said.

“He was then transferred to Australia by air ambulance for medical treatment.

“The man passed away this afternoon in a Brisbane hospital.

“The department expresses its sympathies to his wife, family and friends.”

The death will be reported to the Queensland coroner.

Omid set himself on fire outside the Nauru detention centre on Wednesday.

The incident coincided with a visit from three Canberra-based UNHCR staff, who all witnessed the man’s actions.

The ABC understands the man has been on Nauru for three years.

The ABC spoke with a witness to the incident earlier this week, who said Omid got distressed during a meeting with UNHCR staff.

“He got very angry and distressed and burnt himself,” she said.

“None of them helped. None of them called an ambulance, they just called the police and ran away.


“Doctors didn’t know what to do. They didn’t have supplies to help him.”

Mr Dutton confirmed earlier this week that there had been other incidents of self-harm at the centre.

“There have been other incidents where people have self-harmed or sought to self-harm,” he said.

Government policy ‘leaving people desperate’

Labor’s immigration spokesman Richard Marles described the death as “an absolute tragedy”.

Mr Marles said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to act quickly in response.

“It is clear that the Turnbull Government’s policy, focused only on deterrence with no feasible pathway to permanent migration in a resettlement country is leaving people desperate and without hope,” he said.

“Mr Turnbull must urgently seek a viable agreement to resolve the fate of people on Manus Island and Nauru.”

Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young has also responded to the death.

Senator Hanson-Young directed her comments on social media towards Mr Turnbull, tweeting “yes Prime Minister I am misty-eyed as I can only imagine his loved ones are too”.

Mr Turnbull yesterday stated that Australia could not afford to be “misty-eyed” over border security issues.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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