A man has died in Australian immigration detention, with a fellow inmate claiming he was in despair about his pending deportation.
The death in Sydney last week comes amid delays in Australia's deportation system because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Muhammad Hafizuddin bin Zaini, 29, from Malaysia, had been in immigration detention for five months after being caught for smoking a joint, which led authorities to discover he had overstayed his visa.
He entered detention in Adelaide and was later moved to Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
Mr Hafizuddin did not contest his deportation but agreed to it at the earliest opportunity.
He thought he would be back home with family within a short period of time. But the weeks wore on.
"He was always telling me: 'I'm just wondering if they're not going to send me (home)'," a fellow detainee told AAP.
On the morning of December 12, Mr Hafizuddin and his detainee friend were having a smoke in his room.
It was one of many meetings where they would anxiously discuss their lack of exit date and the absence of communication from authorities. The friend went back to his own room.
Later on, Mr Hafizuddin's room was found locked and a guard was called to open it.
An ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead at Liverpool Hospital.
Australian Border Force confirmed the death a day later with a spokesman saying, "a male detainee from Villawood Immigration Detention Centre recently passed away".
"The matter has been referred for investigation to the appropriate agencies, including the NSW Coroner," he said.
"As this matter will be subject to ongoing investigation, it would not be appropriate to comment further."
Mr Hafizuddin's friend, who AAP has chosen not to name, has been deeply saddened by the death.
"He was a very, very good guy," the man said.
"He's very quiet. Doing his own things."
The pair often talked of what they hoped to do with their lives once back on home soil, he said.
He had tried to be buoyant, as Mr Hafizuddin fell deeper into despair.
"Bro, don't worry it's all about corona", he said, referring to COVID-19-induced international travel bans.
In his final weeks, Mr Hafizuddin had been skipping meals and sleeping all day, the man said.
Mr Hafizuddin's journey through immigration detention started about five months ago when a neighbour next to his Adelaide residence called police on him for smoking marijuana.
A background check revealed the Malaysian had overstayed his visa by a few years.
When the two became friends, the fellow detainee was already in detention after serving a short jail sentence and also waiting to be deported.
He is also depressed about the uncertainty of his situation.
"It doesn't make sense," the man said.
"Other compound's boys - they already get back home.
"I don't know why ... they keep us here long."
He believes there are four or five others in his section of Villawood waiting to be deported.
Border Force said the global pandemic had affected Australia's deportation system, saying "a significant reduction in the availability of commercial flights has impacted ABF's ability to conduct escorted removals of high risk individuals".
However some deportations have proceeded in spite of restrictions.
"The ABF has conducted charter removal operations in order to continue with removal of unlawful non-citizens during COVID-19 restrictions," the spokesman said.
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Australian Associated Press