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Iranian refugee dies after setting himself on fire on Nauru

April 29, 2016

SYDNEY (AP) — An Iranian refugee who set himself on fire at Australia’s immigration detention camp on the Pacific island nation of Nauru died of his injuries on Friday, officials said.

The 23-year-old man, who set himself alight on Wednesday in an apparent protest over Australia’s strict asylum seeker policies, died in an Australian hospital after being airlifted there for treatment, Australia’s immigration department said in a statement.

The refugee’s actions were a protest intended to coincide with a visit to the island by representatives of the U.N. refugee agency, Nauru’s government said earlier this week.

Australia refuses to accept asylum seekers who try to reach its shores by boat and pays Nauru and Papua New Guinea to hold them in detention camps instead.

The divisive policy has faced fresh criticism in the wake of the man’s death and a court decision this week that dubbed Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island unconstitutional.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said on Wednesday that he would close the Manus center after the island nation’s Supreme Court ruled that detaining asylum seekers and refugees there was a violation of their constitutional right to personal liberty.

The decision has sent Australian officials scrambling to find a solution, with O’Neill asking Australia to immediately make alternative arrangements for the center’s 900 detainees. But where they will go is unclear, as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists none of them will be allowed to settle in Australia.

Update hourly