By Elaine Smith
We wait for news of the officials who visit the camp today. We are not sure if they are there to look at the camp and problems there, or more to discuss general matters with Nauru.
I have been a little quiet lately. I am overjoyed that the hunger strike is suspended at the request of DIMIA. I am only sorry that it took so long for the message to get to Nauru. There was the visit of John Hodges, who only said to them, "Eat and get well" This gave them no hope, then in the new year Robert Wait delivered a letter to them. It asked them to stop the hunger strike til DIMIA could look at the new information and look at their files. This at last gave them something. It is a leap of hope.
Now we will all watch and wait to see what happens. This is the message that Amanda Vanstone had been saying to the Australian Media, but she did not communicate it to those in Nauru.
As you know communication is all but impossible, not because of intent, but more because Nauru is in such a bad way. The internet becomes non functional, the phone line blows down, mail is not delivered for months. The guys are struggling to get any communication in as well as out.
I am getting information each day (when there is a phone line and they have a phone card) about the health situation.
Overall they stopped the hunger strike with hope, but they are thrown into anxiety very easily, especially when Amanda Vanstone said that policies would not change. I am trying to tell them to remain calm and wait. It does not help if there are comments like this in the news. We have to remember that what they are facing in places like Afghanistan is horrendous. Some of these people have already known torture, so they are determined they will not go back to that. We have to keep them hopeful, to avoid the dark desperate thoughts. They are especially desperate not to take their kids into that situation (please look at http://www.nauruwire.org/galleries.htm to see the faces and read snippets of what they say)
Most of the hunger strikers have lost 10-12 Kg. They are sore and weak, their stomachs hurt and their kidneys pain, they try to walk and move their muscles but they need assistance. Some were weak and ill before the hunger strike. Every one struggles with anxiety, depression and varying degrees of mental problems. They need trauma and torture counselling rather than more suffering. Even the children suffer these mental problems.
Still some are being transferred to the hospital when there is cause for concern.
Jarnil and Raja have been sent to the hospital and I think returned to the camp. Basically everyone is in the camp and beginning to eat. First they started with soup and a little milk. Then if they tolerated that they were given soft food, then harder food, fruit, salad. The man with the swollen, leaking legs has his legs bandaged and can walk feebly with help.
Many complain of kidney pain. We do not know if this could be kidney stones, precipitated by dehydration. They are given pain killers and recommended to drink plenty of water. Some will get a blood test and urine test today. We do not know what diagnostic facilities there could be on Nauru.
I think people are getting a little better and stronger each day, but the list to see the doctor is increasing. Maybe pains and problems are surfacing. The doctor comes to their rooms. Yesterday when the doctor came to visit Sayed Naimatullah, he collapsed from the chair where he was sitting. Amin still needs crutches to help move.
There have been medical problems in the camp for over two years. Some are of a serious and chronic nature that cannot be treated on Nauru, eg the lady who had her back damaged when she was pulled 10 metres up the side of a warship by ropes. I believe the next lady that was pulled up like this fell to the boat again. Then the navy decided to find a safer method. Warships are not designed for rescue and did not carry the equipment, food and supplies for this. Rescue vessels would have been more appropriate if rescue was intended. There are diabetics, kids with problems such as heart, crossed eyes, adults going blind and that overwhelming depression and despair.
They have been
patient for over two years, struggling to maintain
normality, studying, exercising and praying. We think there
may be a chance of hope, so we wait and watch together.