Up to 15 asylum seekers at Nauru have been given medical aid as a hunger strike at the processing centre enters its fifth day.
One detainee told SBS News around 300 men were refusing to eat.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration disputed this number, saying it was difficult to determine how many people were on hunger strike, but confirmed between 10 and 15 people had been given medical treatment on-site.
“We’ve confirmed there is a group of people who are missing meals, however we do refute the scale and the numbers claimed by refugee advocates.
“Given that there are large amounts of food being taken at meal times, including snacks, fruit, that sort of thing, that assumes there are a large number of people eating.”
The spokesperson said detainees had access to food and water “at all times”.
The Pakistani asylum seeker who spoke to SBS – and did not want to give his name – said the hunger strike, along with a peaceful protest held at the centre yesterday evening, was intended to send a message to Australia.
“We are just trying to get the word out, we are showing our feelings to the media and the people of Australia we are not happy here.”
The man also spoke of poor conditions at the camp, saying overcrowding and heat exposure were particularly problematic.
A Salvation Army representative recently visited the camp, and said via a statement: “Heat is a constant drain on both staff and transferees.”
“The Transferee Internet Room and Education Room are air conditioned, and fans are available elsewhere.
“Improvements to the facilities continue to be made, and the Salvation Army continues to develop a range of educational and recreational programs available to transferees.”
The Pakistani asylum seeker said the strike would continue at Nauru until the Department of Immigration provided more information about the status of their cases.
“We want our cases to be heard in Australia, that is what we want,” he said.