Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pressure mounts in Oz over Nauru refugee kids



Pressure mounts in Oz over Nauru refugee kids

Pressure mounts in Oz over Nauru refugee kids

Public pressure was mounting on Australia’s government on Sunday to remove refugee children detained on the Pacific island of Nauru, possibly to New Zealand, even as the prime minister raised fears such transfers could encourage new arrivals.

Under a harsh policy meant to deter asylum-seekers from reaching Australia by boat, Canberra sends arrivals to remote Pacific camps for processing and bars them from resettling in Australia.

But domestic and international criticism of the camps has grown amid reports of abuse, suicides and lengthy detention periods, even as the government says the policy is discouraging asylum-seekers from embarking on dangerous sea voyages.

A YouGov Galaxy poll commissioned by Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph found 79 per cent of those surveyed want children and their families transferred off Nauru.

The children’s plight was highlighted earlier this month after Nauru kicked out Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), a global medical charity that had been treating asylum-seekers in the camps.

MSF said many children were suffering “traumatic withdrawal syndrome” and were unable to eat, drink or talk.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR added in mid-October that the health situation of asylum-seekers and refugees was “collapsing”.

Ahead of a crucial Sydney by-election this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison seemed willing to work with the Labour opposition to allow some refugees to be transferred to New Zealand, although they would still be blocked from entering Australia.

But with ongoing counting pointing to a loss in the seat for the government, Morrison has since appeared to back away from a deal.

“I just want to get them off, but I want to get them off in a way which does not put more children on Nauru,” he told commercial broadcaster Channel Nine on Friday.

“If one boat turns up or one child is floating face down in the water, how would Australia feel then?”

Within Morrison’s Liberal Party, three MPs have so far called for children to be removed.

New Zealand has an open offer to take 150 people from Nauru, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday she expected women and children to be prioritised if Australia accepts the proposal.

There are 635 asylum-seekers and refugees on Nauru, including 52 children, according to Immigration Minister David Coleman.

There are also some 600 men in transition centres on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island after the camp there was closed late last year, according to refugee advocates.

Under a deal with former US president Barack Obama, 439 people have so far been resettled from Manus and Nauru to the US, Coleman added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian