Human Rights Groups Want Child Refugees Off Of Nauru
Far off the northeastern coast of Australia is the tiny island nation of Nauru. At only 21 sq. km, with a population of just over 11,000 people, it’s the smallest state in the South Pacific. The small country receives a lot of aid from Australia. Since 2001, it has become a temporary holding place for refugees as well. Australia is a common destination for conflict and economic refugees from around Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Every year, hundreds of them try to make a dangerous ocean crossing, often on small and unreliable boats, to seek a better life in the country. To try to deter the influx of asylum seekers, Australia has adopted a policy of offshore refugee processing called the Pacific Solution. Under this program, any refugees found off the shores of Australia are redirected to detention centers on Nauru or several other islands. There they wait, often for years and years, with no hope of finding a home. Recently, a group of human rights organizations has demanded that the Australian government remove the children who are detained on Nauru. Called the #KidsOffNauru coalition, they are pushing for all 119 refugee children on the island to be removed by November. The new campaign started after reports of a 12-year-old on a hunger strike raised fears about the health of children on the island. The boy in question, originally from Iran, has been refusing to eat now for weeks. Officials are seeking to move him to Australia for medical treatment. More than 30 charities and advocacy groups have joined together to pressure the Australian government, including World Vision Australia and Oxfam Australia. Refugees on Nauru live in overcrowded tents without adequate access to proper nutrition, sanitation, or healthcare. Children have no proper education or even places to play. Complaints of human rights abuses are common. There are currently more than 240 men, women, and children detained on the island. But it’s difficult to judge the exact conditions on Nauru. It’s hard for foreigners to visit the island, let alone the detention centers. Journalists need to pay 8,000 Australian dollars (W6.4 million) just for a visa, and that’s non-refundable. The recent attention will hopefully be a wake-up call for Australia and lead the country to clean up its refugee program. But for the time being, refugees on this island and at other detention centers around the Pacific are stuck in a sort of limbo with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no idea how long they’ll have to stay.
Sandy Fortune For The Teen Times (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. What is Pacific Solution?
2. What has a group of human rights organization demanded of the Australian government?
3. How are the refugees on Nauru living?
1. What do you think it would be like to be a refugee living on Nauru?
2. What was the worst circumstance that you were in?
3. Are there people you want to help? Who are they? Why do you want to help them?