Asylum seekers on hunger strike on Nauru. Photo: Clint Deidenang
DOCTORS have told Omid - an Iranian on his 31st day of a hunger strike in Nauru on Sunday - that his kidneys and brain will soon fail, fellow asylum seekers say.
An asylum seeker in Nauru told Fairfax Media that detainees had tried to encourage the skeletal Omid to eat but he responded that ''it's better to die than to live on Nauru''.
A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said medical staff continued to monitor the man's condition and would provide treatment ''if and when necessary''.
Omid was the first man in Nauru to stage a hunger strike. He has been joined by others, who were on their 11th day of protest on Sunday. Asylum seekers say Wilson Security guards and Salvation Army staff have been trying to convince the men to eat.
While the asylum seekers say that 300 men are on a hunger strike, the department says at least 200 meals continue to be served daily.
The protesters are demanding to have their claims for asylum processed promptly and to be transferred to Australia for processing.
But the system is under great pressure. On Thursday, there were 2423 asylum seekers on Christmas Island, including 529 minors. According to the department, the ''contingency capacity'' is 2008 people.
Until now, only men have been sent to Nauru but the spokesman for the department confirmed that children and families would also be sent there - and to Manus Island when it opens - in coming months.
''There will be no broader blanket exemptions,'' he said.
On Saturday, 36 more Sri Lankans were sent home, the fourth group of Sri Lankans forcibly removed from Australia last week.
The Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said the asylum seekers had ''raised no issues that engaged Australia's international obligations''.
Since August 13, 255 Sri Lankans have been sent home.
But refugee lawyer David Manne, who led the successful High Court challenge to the so-called ''Malaysian solution'', said the practice should be subject to review.
Correction: The original version of this story said that since August 13,255 Sri Lankans had been sent home.