Infrastructure in Nauru

Infrastructure in Nauru is insufficient based on its citizen’s necessities. Isolated in the Pacific Ocean, Nauruans suffer water shortages and energy uncertainty, as power is supplied by diesel generators. New projects aim to reverse this situation, but antiquated facilities still remain.

The Island Ring is Nauru’s main road system. It circles the entire country, shaping the island’s form with 17 concrete kilometers. This is the principal ground transportation infrastructure in the world’s smallest republic.

Nauru has one international airport, built-in 1943 during the Japanese occupation in World War II. It operates with Naura Airlines, which has two air crafts and one all-cargo airplane. The airline flies to various Central and South Pacific islands.

Phosphate mine exploitation is the biggest economic activity on the island. In order to transport the mineral, a four kilometer railway was built in 1907. The train stopped operating in 2011, when the phosphate industry declined dramatically in Nauru. The government estimates that its phosphate deposits have a remaining life of about 30 years, according to BBC.

The energy infrastructure in Nauru is also not reliable. It has a limited capacity due to the nation’s reliance on diesel generators. However, the Asian Development Bank and the European Union have implemented the Nauru Electricity Supply Security and Sustainability Project which includes a new medium-speed 2.6-3.o megawatt diesel generator.

The Australian government also supports the island. With the Nauru Infrastructure and Essential Services Initiative, Australia has provided around $8.3 million in order to improve Nauru’s infrastructure. Thanks to this initiative, Nauru received the installation of a second power generator, and the Hospital Redevelopment Project was completed in February 2017.

Refugees who seek to get into Australia by boat are sent to Nauru’s asylum camp, an offshore retention settlement. Several news articles report that the situation in the camp is difficult since water supply is short and refugees do not have access to basic needs. The island does not have a reliable source of water, as it is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and has no rivers or lakes.

The only current solutions to the lack of water are desalination plants, which are expensive, and rainwater storage systems. Even though four small plants operate on the island, the desalination process is insufficient and negatively affects Nauru’s environment. To resolve this problem, Nauru’s government, assisted by external investment, planned the installation of a solar PV system and a new desalination plant. This project is expected to produce up to 100 cubic meters of safe water per day.

Infrastructure in Nauru may be obsolete in certain sectors, but the government is working to improve it. Energy and water infrastructure is getting better thanks to the investment of international organizations. The next years will be crucial for the island as the first results from improvement projects begin to appear.

-Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Nauru

What do you know about Nauru? That it is the smallest republic in the world? In 1968, the island of Nauru gained its independence, and a bit over three decades later became the smallest independent republic in the world when it joined the United Nations.

The south Pacific island is home to just under 10,000 people. Those who live there are governed by a parliamentary republic. Today, Nauru is arguably better known for its human rights issues than for its last place finish in the world’s largest country contest. While there are certainly those who are not satisfied with the protection of human rights in Nauru, the evidence suggests that the nation does a very admirable job in this area.

Some of the allegations of human rights violations in Nauru were related to corruption. However, the U.S. State Department’s 2014 report on Nauru did not reach the same conclusion. The report states that the government, led by President Baron Waqa, utilizes its resources effectively to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. This seems to be working well, as there were zero reports of impunity involving Nauruan security forces in 2014.

Another frequent concern are the prison and detention center conditions in Nauru. This worry stemmed from an incident in the summer of 2013 when asylum seekers in Nauru’s Australian-run detention center rioted. The riot was the result of Australia announcing that Australia would put into effect more rigid immigration policies. Ultimately, more than 60 asylum seekers faced criminal charges. The world’s perception of human rights in Nauru has been greatly affected by this incident.

While this occurrence certainly represents a stain on the nation’s human rights record, it does not capture the full picture. In fact, the State Department’s report states that prison conditions generally met international standards.

The protection of women and women’s rights is another aspect of Nauru’s protection of human rights that is sometimes criticized. Part of this concern stems from the fact that women’s participation in politics is significantly less than that of men’s. However, since there are no rules or laws stopping women from participating, this may be more of a cultural issue.

Authorities in Nauru have been successful in protecting women against domestic violence and rape. The State Department’s report states that the courts “vigorously prosecuted” reported cases of rape.

There is clearly still work to be done and room for improvement, but the tiny island nation of Nauru is succeeding in protecting its people’s human rights in many regards.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in Nauru

The Republic of Nauru is a small island nation about 1,800 miles northeast of Australia, according to the BBC. The country has only about 10,000 inhabitants and there has been little economic activity since the 1980s, when its phosphate mines were exhausted.

Common diseases in Nauru include noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to a report submitted to the U.N. by the island nation in 2014. Health indicators, which are important when considering disease rate and mortality rate, are poorer in Nauru than in any other area of the Pacific region. NCDs affect communities and the government by making people more vulnerable to heat and water stress, which increases their vulnerability to climate change as well. This has made combating their causes a top priority.

Diabetes and its related complications account for most hospital admissions in Nauru. Life expectancy on the island is one of the lowest in the Pacific region and has gone down over the past 20 years. Diabetes affects 30 to 40 percent of the adult population and is one of the most common diseases in Nauru. NPR reported that amputations are a regular occurrence due to the disease. Other common diseases in Nauru include circulatory diseases such as hypertension and coronary artery disease. This is partly due to a shift from a traditional diet of root crops and fish to a modern diet loaded with processed sugar and saturated fats.

According to the Journal of Third World Studies, alcohol and cigarettes and the increased consumption of high fat diets has increased the prevalence of NCDs in the South Pacific region. This problem can be traced to an improved standard of living.

The government of Nauru developed a strategic plan in 2014 which was outlined in a document titled Nauru Non-Communicable Disease Strategic Action Plan 2015-2020. This plan was drafted in order to combat these problems and its main goal is to reduce the problems caused by NCDs in Nauru by 2020. About 28 participants came together in October 2013 to begin developing the strategic plan. Most of these participants were from the nation’s healthcare sector. Other members included community, church and education leaders, sports representatives and news outlets. The national NCD committee met in November 2013 to review the actions suggested by the previous committee and the draft was finalized in May of 2014.

NCDs are some of the most common diseases in Nauru and are the largest causes of death and disability on the island. Heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and lower repertory disease account for nearly 80 percent of deaths in Nauru. This island nation hopes to ease the burden that their citizens bear due to NCDs with their newly-developed strategic plan. Reaching the goals of this plan will surely help improve health on the island and extend the life expectancy of citizens of Nauru.

Fernando Vazquez

Photo: Flickr

Among the various diseases in Nauru, the most serious and commonly transmitted in the country are dengue fever and typhoid fever.

Dengue Fever: Cause and Symptoms

According to WebMD, dengue fever is a disease that is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Unlike many other diseases in Nauru, dengue fever cannot be transmitted via person-to-person contact. Symptoms common to the disease include high fever, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, nosebleeds, and bruising. If left untreated, it is potentially life-threatening.

Recently, dengue fever has been a rising epidemic in Nauru. Medical researchers have confirmed at least 70 cases of dengue fever within the country. While there has been a rapid increase in infections, Nauru is currently working with a limited amount of treatment supplies.

Nauruan government officials have met with officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Australian government, and hospital staff members of International Health and Medical Services, in order to develop an effective solution to the epidemic. However, due to limited medical resources, some infected patients have been evacuated to Australia for proper treatment.

Typhoid: Causes and Symptoms

Another common disease, typically transmitted through contaminated food and water in Nauru, is typhoid. Common symptoms of typhoid include high fever, headaches, stomach pains, loss of appetite, internal bleeding and in extreme cases, death.

The risk of infection is especially high in Nauru and the surrounding regions, so the Center for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends that potential travelers get vaccinated before traveling into the country.

Travelers who reside with friends or relatives, visit small cities and eat “risky” foods face the highest risk of becoming infected with typhoid disease. The CDC recommends that travelers into the country be especially cautious of the kinds of food and drink that they consume, such as tap or well water, salads, unwashed raw fruit and food from street vendors.

One of the best ways to avoid contracting typhoid, as well as other diseases in Nauru, is to keep hands washed and well-sanitized. It is also best to avoid all physical contact with individuals who are infected with the disease.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr


Papua New Guinea Refugees
The untouched wilderness and island paradise of Papua New Guinea often enchants first-time visitors. However, Australia’s harsh immigration policies and practices have recently come to light. Current news reports reveal a tale of cruelty and endless waiting for those hoping to leave the country. Here are seven facts about Papua New Guinea refugees:

  1. In 2005, a partnership between UNICEF, the Catholic Church, and the government of Papua New Guinea issued some 1700 birth certificates to unregistered refugee children. In a country where only three percent of births are registered, the project offered hope for many children. Although birth certificates are often taken for granted in first world countries, they are very important tools. They can ensure a child’s social, legal and economic rights in the country they live in.
  2. Australia’s strict refugee policy orders all intercepted refugees to be taken to a detention center on Manus Island. After countless scandals dealing with the horrible living and working conditions at the detention facility, the Australian government made the decision to begin winding down operations at Manus Island. As a result, the facility will be closed by 2018.
  3. New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, recently reached out to the Prime Minister of Australia and offered to resettle 150 refugees at Manus Island in New Zealand. The offer has been in place since 2013. Regardless, the Australian Prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has hardly acknowledged the possible benefits of the offer.
  4. Papua New Guinea refugees detained at Manus Island have endured horrible living conditions and physical strife. Nonetheless, Matt Siegel of Reuters says that of the terrible things these people must go through, the psychological effects are the most dangerous. “Some of these people have been in these camps for three, four, five years, and that leads to an enormous level of self-harm, suicide attempts.”
  1. Refugees who are resettled in Papua New Guinea are often resettled in cities like Lae, where the crime rate is high and the wages are low. One witness claims that some refugees work low wage jobs like construction but are paid as little as $12 a day.
  2. Refugees detained at Manus Island and Nauru have staged hunger strikes and peaceful protests to demand freedom. One reporter even described instances where some men sewed their mouths shut for a hunger strike.
  3. In 2016, Australia announced a one-time partnership with the U.S. and the U.N. The U.S. pledged to resettle a number of refugees from Manus Island. Priority would be given to women and children, with single men bringing up the rear of the priority list.

While steps are now being taken to close down island prisons like Manus Island and Nauru, there are still millions of refugees around the world looking for a new place to call home. One hopes that Australia and Papua New Guinea will do better to help those who dream of a new life on their shores.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

 Nauru Refugees
Here are 10 facts about Nauru refugees:

  1.  Nauru refugees are not in Nauru by choice. Nauru refugees originally sought refuge in Australia. However, Australia was unwilling to provide them with care and forced 1,200 asylum seekers into a detainment center in Nauru. Nauru is only eight square miles, no larger than an international airport and already has a population of 10,000 people.
  2. The native Nauruans do not want the Nauru refugees there. The Nauru refugees are targeted by locals. Physical assaults against refugees happen regularly. What little property the Nauru refugees have is frequently broken or vandalized. Even refugee children are subject to these torments, making it difficult for them to concentrate or attend school.
  3. There are no legal services for the Nauru refugees. None of the Nauru refugees will become residents of either Nauru or Australia. The Nauru refugees are seeking refuge in fear of persecution in their home countries. However, the travel documents they have been issued confine them to Nauru for five years.
  4. The Nauru refugee crisis is being covered up. Nauru has banned foreign journalists in order to hide the poor treatment of refugees. The Australian government passed a law making it illegal for any employees, former or current, to disclose information on the conditions of the refugees. Despite these efforts, reporters find ways to interview refugees and former workers continue to come forward with their experiences.
  5. Nauru refugees came in search of liberty, only to become victims. Ali and his wife Khorvas are just one example of many. They left Iran because they believed in democracy. They sought to find a place where they would not be denied their human rights, but they only traded one confinement for another.
  6. The conditions the Nauru refugees live in do not meet U.N. standards. The tents each house 14 refugees and cannot weather the elements. Rain seeps in, heat and humidity are intensified, mold festers and pests easily infiltrate. The water supply is insufficient, resulting in dehydration or the consumption of unsanitary water. Waste management is not secure, allowing for cross-contamination.
  7. Sexual predators target Nauru refugee camps. Hawo, a Somalian, left her home country because of violence and sexual abuse towards women. Unfortunately, sexual exploitation of refugees is widespread. Men, including guards, force themselves onto women or expect them to barter sex for necessities. Reports of these incidents are not taken seriously.
  8. Health care for refugees is minimal. The Nauru hospital is small and lacks basic supplies. The majority of cases must be treated through abrupt transfers to Australia. The majority of medical transfers are due to mental health issues. Many refugees have been promised treatment that never comes. There is no screening of communicable diseases and no pediatric care in Nauru. Roughly 50 percent of the child refugees have latent tuberculosis. Immunization courses are never fully completed.
  9. Child refugees in Nauru are most at risk physically and mentally. There are no safety precautions set forth for children. Within the 2000 leaked records of reported abuse, there are records of sexually abused children, 59 physical assaults on children, 30 instances where a child has self-inflicted harm and 159 accounts of children threatening to self-harm.
  10. Many of the refugees have turned to suicide or self-inflicted harm. Refugees have taken to hunger strikes in hopes to improve their living situations. Omid Masoumali’s death was caught on cellphone video. Masoumali lit himself on fire, in protest to the conditions in where he was held. Benjamin, a 19-year-old who cut his wrists, said the Nauru refugees are a people living without hope.

Although no word has been given to close the Nauru Detainment Center, the second Australian Refugee Detention Center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, is closing operations.

The Australian Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in April 2016. Recently, counselors from Save the Children, a nonprofit previously working on Nauru, bravely reported many of the abuses they witnessed but were bound by confidentiality not to reveal this.

In light of these revelations, it is hoped that the Nauru Detainment Center will also close, allowing the Nauru refugees to receive quality aid elsewhere.

Amy Whitman

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Nauru
Located 4,000 km from Sydney, Australia is the smallest island in the world, expanding out 21 square kilometers — this is Nauru. What was once the wealthiest nation on the planet is now in shambles. The country thrived on agriculture and phosphate mining; however, now that all of the phosphate resources were stripped from the island, what remains is a wasteland.

Because of the staggering descent into poverty in Nauru, which is desperate for money, the nation has traded in the phosphate business for migrants. In 2001, Nauru entered into an agreement with Australia in which Nauru would hold refugees trying to enter Australia in return for foreign aid.

How did the wealthiest nation become desperate for foreign aid? After seizing independence from Britain in 1968, the nation’s inhabitants grew extremely wealthy from exporting phosphate. On top of that, the government revoked taxes and gave its inhabitants monthly stipends.

This way of governing provided the people with no incentive to find jobs, start businesses or provide for the economy. The money that was propagated eroded in corruption and poorly executed distribution of investments. By 1980, all the phosphate was basically depleted from the island. Poverty in Nauru increased from there. Now, 80 percent of the island is covered in limestone pinnacles, making it uninhabitable and utterly useless.

Mining in Nauru not only destroyed the land, but also the coastal waters as it has been contaminated due to phosphate runoff. Not only is there poverty in Nauru, but also a serious health crisis. A nation that had once cultivated the land for fresh crops and fished, is now home to some of the most obese and sick people.

In 2007, the World Health Organization Report recounted 94.5 percent of Nauru’s inhabitants as being overweight and 71.7 as being obese. The life expectancy in Nauru is around 50, and Type II diabetes is more prevalent there than in any other place in the world. Most of the population now lives off of prefabricated food shipped from Australia.

Nauru has become dependent on foreign aid mainly from Australia, New Zealand and Japan. A Sydney University geosciences professor by the name of John Connell expressed his belief that the only long-run solution to this crisis is a complete relocation of Nauru’s inhabitants.

However, as of now, the nation is getting some of its income from selling passports to foreign nationals and taking in refugees other countries refuse. In hopes to help with the poverty in Nauru, in 2001, Australia set up the Nauru detention center and provided many of the nation’s inhabitants with jobs. In 2012, Australia set up a second facility, which sparked hope in hearts of the inhabitants — a hope for a better future.

Now that asylums are in high demand due to the excessive numbers of refugees, Nauru’s facilities have been in full swing; however, poverty in Nauru is still very much prevalent. Although it may seem like a dead end, it appears that Australia still insists on using Nauru’s detention center because it is refusing to admit more refugees. This nation’s unusual and destructive past has steered Nauru into an impasse, but the future of the small island still remains unclear.

Kayla Mehl

Photo: Flickr