Refugee detention unworthy of Australia: Tim Costello

Tim Costello (Image Credit:

World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello has called on the Australian Government to immediately find a just and humane solution to the issue of refugees being held in indefinite detention on Nauru and Manus Island.

Mr Costello said the desperate act of a young Somali woman, Hodan Yasin, in setting herself on fire, the second such incident on Nauru in a week, was a sickening indictment of policies that had left refugees without hope.

“People don’t burn themselves as a protest,” Mr Costello said. “These are people who have been deprived of hope.

“In their determination to stop the boats, successive Australian Government have cast refugees into a no-man’s land of indefinite detention, out of sight, out of mind and out of conscience.

“Australians are known as a fair-minded and generous people. What is happening in our name on Nauru and Manus Island is not worthy of us.”

Mr Costello said the Turnbull Government needed to find a way to resettle refugees, as the Howard Government did, despite tough border protection policies.

He said World Vision Australia viewed with the gravest concern reports that Hodan, 21, had been held on Nauru for three years and comments by friends that her “gentle soul” had been “destroyed” by her time in detention.

“Through our work in Somalia, we know only too well the reasons why young women like Hodan look for a better life and why they can’t go back,” Mr Costello said.

World Vision has worked in Somalia since 1993. Humanitarian issues in Somalia include periodic drought, armed conflict, clan violence, widespread human rights violations, political instability and insecurity, and high malnutrition rates.

According to the United Nations, about 4.9 million people in Somalia are in need of life-saving and livelihoods support. More than 1 million people have been internally displaced by issues including discrimination, violation of children’s rights and pervasive gender-based violence. The UN estimates that 98 per cent of Somali girls are subjected to Female Genital Mutilation.

Almost half of Somalia’s girls are married by the time they are 18.

Last week, a 23-year-old Iranian man, Omid Masoumali, died from burns after setting himself on fire on Nauru. Papua New Guinea said last week that the Manus Island detention centre would close following a court ruling that the facility was illegal and breached the human rights of detainees.

Story Source: World Vision Australia