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Hodan Yasin

Refugee Stories











That indefinite offshore detention is all about torture is vividly illustrated by the desperation of Omid Masoumali and Hodan Yasin who self immolated on Nauru.  Omid, a 23 year old Iranian, had been recognised as a refugee and had been on Nauru for three years and tragically died from his burns.


It is reported that Hodan, a 21 year old refugee from Somalia, suffered severe burns to 70% of her body, with her upper body and face most badly affected. She is presently in a Brisbane Hospital with no reports on her current condition. 


Hodan's story is a powerful indictment of the brutal indifference of the Australian government's treatment of those seeking our protection.  She fled Somalia, a terrifying place, particularly for young women.  Instead of safety she found herself in a place of indifference and practiced deterrence.


She had been medivacced to Australia from Nauru in November 2015 after an incident where she was found unconscious.  Following treatment in Brisbane she was put into detention at BITA  (Brisbane immigration transit accommodation).  Several days before her suicide attempt she and two other young women were forcibly removed from BITA in the early hours of the morning and carried struggling and screaming onto a plane and returned to Nauru.  Doctors had warned she was not ready to be returned and had threatened suicide several times.  Despite this she was returned and less than a week later set herself alight.


In the days between Omid and Hodan's self harm there had been at least six suicide attempts reported on Nauru.  Sources on the island say self-harm and suicide attempts happen daily.


The UN has repeatedly condemned Australia's detention regime as unlawful and damaging and the office of the UNHCR said there was “no doubt that the current policy of offshore processing and prolonged detention is immensely harmful”.  Before there are more stories like Omid and Hodan's the Australian government must be brought to account.

More stories of people who’ve fled war or persecution to reach safety abroad:


  • Yaser's Story - Three years on, asylum horror refuses to fade. Iranian refugee Yaser Naseri recounts the ordeal of surviving one of the worst asylum seeker disasters at sea.



  • How Far We’ve Come (SBS). The lives of refugees in Australia over time – stories of refugees first interviewed by SBS up to 25 years ago, to find out what has happened in their lives since. Each story is accompanied by a fact sheet with background information on the person’s country of origin and the conditions which forced them to flee.

  • Long Journey, Young Lives (ABC). This online interactive documentary follows the journeys of young refugees from conflict and violence in their homeland, to their dangerous journey and subsequent detention in Australia. It also explores the opinions of Australian school students on asylum seeker issues.


  • Welcome to Australia. Authentic friendships begin with a genuine welcome and are deepened through greater appreciation of the stories of those we befriend.


  • Refugees’ Australian Stories (Researchers for Asylum Seekers)This multimedia project uses images and the spoken and written word to tell the stories of refugees from around the world who have made Australia their home.

  • Refugees: Telling Their Stories. Between 2003 and 2005, UNHCR’s Canberra office ran a writing competition for high school students to encourage them to make contacts with refugees living among them in their communities and listen to their stories. This publication contains the winning stories from the 2005 competition.

  • Rethink Refugees (Amnesty International Australia). Amnesty’s “Rethink Refugees” website aims to break down myths about refugees and asylum seekers. The site includes personal stories of refugees who sought asylum or were resettled in Australia.

  • Scattered People (Refugee Claimants Support Service). Originally developed as a complement to a collection of songs written and inspired by asylum seekers in Brisbane, this website includes stories from asylum seekers about the different stages of the refugee journey as well as a photo documentary.


  • House of WelcomeStories of those who have fled their homes, their culture and way of life because of persecution and danger.


Omid Masoumali
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