Unprecedented photos of child detainees on the island of Nauru, off Australia’s north-east coast have been released by advocates to draw attention to Australia’s tough immigration policy.
A coalition of more than 30 humanitarian and religious organisations released the images to highlight the ongoing detention of asylum seekers at the island facility under the border policy established to deter people smugglers from trying to land people on Australian shores.
The initiative, led by World Vision Australia, is calling for the children and their families on Nauru to be released by Universal Children’s Day on November 20.
There are 119 children currently on Nauru and in the past five years, more than 40 stateless babies have been born in the offshore processing centre.
A World Vision spokesperson said that 85% of people in the offshore processing facility have been deemed refugees. The three children featured below, having been born on the island, are stateless, meaning they are not recognised as a citizen of any country.
World Vision CEO Claire Rogers said many of the children have lived for years in tents, separated from close family members and have no safe place to play or access to acceptable medical care.
“It is clear that indefinite detention is daily causing real and serious harm to these children,” she said
“These children have been forced to see and endure things that no child should ever see. They should have the chance to rebuild their lives in peace and safety.”
The organisations involved are also seeking expressions of support from businesses through the campaign’s website, Kids Off Nauru. Under current policy, the children and their families will not be allowed to come to Australia.
Australia’s border deterrent policy — which has been successful in stopping the people smuggling trade — is directed by the Department of Home Affairs. The minister, Peter Dutton, is currently being touted as a potential leadership challenger to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose authority has been weakened by a backbench revolt over energy policy in recent days.
A spokesperson for Home Affairs told The Daily Telegraph: “The Australian government’s position has not changed, these individuals will never come to Australia.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has offered to resettle 150 detainees from Nauru directly, but the Nauruan government has rejected the approach.
Last week it was reported a 12-year-old boy had to be sedated and given fluids intravenously to keep him alive after being on a hunger strike for more than a fortnight.
Three children who have spent their entire lives on Nauru feature in the campaign.
George, 2, was born on Nauru
“He doesn’t talk yet, but he loves to write. I think he is going to be a writer, like his father,” his mother says
His family has been on the island for 5 years
Melanie, 3, was born on Nauru
Her family have been on the island for five years
“It is so difficult to live in Nauru. I wish on nobody that they are stuck here like us,” her mother says
Roze, 2, was born on Papua New Guinea (where Australia’s other now-closed processing facility was based), but has grown up in Nauru
Her family has been on Nauru for five years
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