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Explainer: Welcome to sunny Nauru

07 Dec 2018

Need a quick overview of what's happening on Nauru? We provided mental healthcare for 11 months, before being forced to leave by the Nauruan government in October. Our recent report demonstrates extreme mental health suffering from all our patients.


Welcome to sunny Nauru,
described as an open-air prison
by the refugees and asylum-seekers detained here. 

This tiny Pacific island nation's population is around 11,300 people. 

But hundreds more refugees and asylum seekers also live here,
where they’re trapped indefinitely,
and where life is increasingly desperate.

Why are they here?
Thank Australia.

Since 2013, Australia’s offshore processing policy
has mandated that people seeking safety in Australia by boat
be processed outside the country.

Australia pays Nauru 
to host these individuals, couples and families.

But after years confined to this tiny island,
hope of a free future is running thin
and mental health is deteriorating fast.

For 11 months, MSF provided mental health care on Nauru.

We served local Nauruans as well as 208 refugees and asylum seekers.

And of these 208 men, women and children,
63 attempted suicide
124 expressed suicidal ideation
34 committed acts of self harm

These patients told us that life felt meaningless,
that they had fled one terrible situation
only to wind up in a nightmare.

When Nauru abruptly expelled MSF in October 2018,
we left behind patients in a desperate situation.

For the refugees and asylum-seekers we left behind,
our mental health services were vital.

But as long as these people remained trapped on Nauru,
even our services weren’t a solution.

That’s why we’re asking you to join MSF in calling for
the immediate evacuation of all refugees and asylum seekers
from the island of Nauru.

Sign the petition at and share this video with the hashtag #EvacuateNow.