More detainees join Nauru hunger strike

More detainees join Nauru hunger strike

More detainees join Nauru hunger strike

Updated 26 February 2013, 8:07 AEST

Refugee advocates say a hunger strike among asylum seekers on Nauru has escalated, with nine people now taking the step of sewing their lips together.

Refugee advocates say nine asylum seekers on Nauru have sewn their lips together as part of a hunger strike over the conditions on the Pacific island.

It is understood one of the protesters was transported to the Australian city of Brisbane on Monday for specialist care.

The asylum seekers are protesting against conditions in the camp and the wait for immigration processing to begin in the regional processing centre.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the asylum seekers are getting mental health support, but she says the protest is not going to help their cause.

"The first point to make is it doesn't get you anywhere," she said.

"Unfortunately, people sometimes take that step, but I do want to be very clear: having a hunger strike or anything like that it does not change people's outcomes.

"The one thing that happens for people in our asylum seeker facilities is there is a proper assessment of whether they are a genuine refugee."

Last week the Refugee Action Coalition said more than a dozen detainees on Nauru had joined a hunger strike, with four stitching their lips together.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed that four detainees were involved in an act of self-harm at the facility, but refused to divulge details.

The government reopened detention centres on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island last year to process asylum seekers arriving by boat to Australia.