Angelina Jolie to Visit Australian Asylum Seeker Camp in Nauru

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By Athena Yenko | July 14, 2014 2:43 PM EST

Actress and Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Angeline Jolie, accepted the invitation from Nauru President Baron Waqa to visit the island-nation.

REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie speaks alongside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 13, 2014. Kerry said on Friday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should do more to put sectarian differences aside in his country.

Nauru had reportedly made the invitation after Jolie closed the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence Against Women in Conflict.

The invitation made at the opportune time of the summit raised concerns over an Australian asylum seeker processing centre located in Nauru that had already been subjected to UNHCR's scrutiny.

A visit by UNHCR to Nauru from Oct 7 to 9 found that Australia's asylum seeker camp is rat-infested, cramped and very hot.

"It's not appropriate for families and children to be transferred to Nauru or Papua New Guinea and the suggestions and proposals for transferring unaccompanied children for us is even more deeply concerning. Unaccompanied children are already very vulnerable and to place them in situations of uncertainty and tough physical conditions ... could be very damaging to their health and well-being, UNHCR's Richard Towle wrote in a report.

According to the report, only one asylum seeker had been processed to a refugee status within a 14-month period.

"People are being held in what we found to be mandatory, arbitrary detention settings. The toughness of the physical conditions is superimposed on a mandatory detention environment and that compounds people's uncertainty. If not addressed very carefully, we could see a fairly rapid degradation of psycho-social and physical health people don't have a fairly early determination of their fate and future," Towle said.

However, as for Jolie's visit, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia is not worried, ABC reports.

He told ABC that whoever was invited by Nauru to visit the island is a matter that only concerns the Nauruan government.

In a statement, Nauruan government said that its invitation for Jolie had got nothing to do with the issues raised during the conflict. The government said that it wish to show Jolie that refugee facilities in the island are "world's best practice."

In her closing remark for the summit, Jolie expressed gratitude for male leaders that join the goal of ending sexual violence in war-tormented regions.

"My message to you, is please do not go silent. Raise your voices, and use your influence to inspire the next generation of men to value and honour women. I leave this Summit inspired, and full of resolve for the future. We will not succeed in eradicating warzone rape overnight. But if we bring together all of our efforts; If we can share what we have learned and inspire others to join us; If we can keep in the front of our minds each of the survivors that we have met here; Then I know that we will find the strength to stay the course for the future - and that we can and will end impunity," Jolie said.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Luke MacGregor / REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)
Actress and campaigner Angelina Jolie speaks alongside U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague at a summit to end sexual violence in conflict, at the Excel centre in London June 13, 2014. Kerry said on Friday Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should do more to put sectarian differences aside in his country.
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