| Australia's under-pressure government received a double blow Monday from the UN and a leading doctors' group over harsh treatment of refugees on off-shore island camps.
In an unusual broadside, a top official for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees accused "bureaucrats and politicians" of overruling doctors and putting lives at risk at camps on Nauru and Manus.
Australia holds unauthorized migrants who try to reach the island continent by boat in "off-shore detention" - part of a harsh policy designed to deter would-be asylum-seekers.
UNHCR's Catherine Stubberfield decried the policy as "sold too simplistically" and said changing it was now a matter of "basic human treatment and decency."
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) on Monday also threw its voice behind those calling for the government to change course.
Around 160 people remain on the island of Nauru - including women and children - and it is believed as many as 600 men are still in transition centers on Manus after the Australian-run camp there was closed late last year.
The minority government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has quietly agreed to transfer children off Nauru, but is under fierce pressure to close it completely.
Doctor and independent member of parliament Kerryn Phelps on Monday put forward legislation requiring the temporary transfer from Nauru or Manus of anyone assessed as needing medical treatment as well as the temporary transfer of all children and their families from Nauru.
Eyewitnesses - including AFP journalists - have reported a dire situation on Nauru, with families living under constant fear of loved ones committing suicide.
On Monday, Medecins Sans Frontieres also reported that almost a third of the people they had treated on Nauru before being expelled by the government in October had reported attempted suicide.
A dozen patients, the organization said, had been diagnosed with "resignation syndrome" - a condition that causes people to withdraw into themselves in an almost comatose state.