Australia admonished for care of young asylum seekers
The Refugee Action Coalition says Australia needs to take more responsibility for the safety of unaccompanied minor asylum seekers living on Nauru.
The Refugee Action Coalition says Australia needs to take responsibility for the safety of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and living on Nauru.
Its spokesperson, Ian Rintoul, says late last month, a 17-year-old Iranian was punched, kicked and beaten with a stick by Nauru locals at the Australian-run detention centre.
He says the same group of people then went to a house which accommodates unaccompanied minors seeking asylum and assaulted four Afghanis.
Mary Baines asked Mr Rintoul what the authorities have done about the alleged assaults.
IAN RINTOUL: Precious little, actually. The police have shown complete disinterest. Despite calls being made very early on, they didn't attend until after the locals had finished assaulting the four at the unaccompanied minors' house. They've shown no interest at all in actually following up the complaints. I have spoken to people in the refugee camp, they're quite sure that they could identify the individuals but they've not been interviewed by the police, in spite of making attempts to contact them. Save the Children have got responsibility for the UAMs, from my information anyway at least, they may have made some formal complaints through proper channels, but there has not been any particular remedy for the people, there's no extra guards, for example. The kids are now very, very frightened about leaving the house at all.
MARY BAINES: So would you say the processes in place at the moment for unaccompanied minors are sufficient?
IR: There is no process in place for resettling unaccompanied minors. Unaccompanied minors have not been found to be refugees. The unaccompanied minors were placed in a couple of houses after the protest was still happening in the family detention centre. They were taken out of the family detention centre and accommodated in these houses but there's no services whatsoever for them. Save the Children has overall responsibility but there's no services, there's no education, even just basic things to fill their time - classes of any kind, activities of any kind, planned excursions, they're effectively left to their own devices. And it's very clear that as far as Nauru is concerned, Nauru simply hasn't got you know the services or ability to look after even the 29 unaccompanied minors that are outside the detention centre now. The situation for people outside the wire is in many ways as bad as it is for people who are still outside the detention centres.
MB: The Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison has said anything that happens to resettled refugees on Nauru is not Australia's problem, it's Nauru's. So what do you think can be done from here?
IR: Well Morrison says those kinds of things but he knows full well that it is Australia's responsibility and the thing doesn't function on Nauru except that it is run and funded by Australia. Nauru is effectively bankrupt - all the services Save the Children, the immigration department, the detention centre, the refugee camp, every bit of it is actually funded and administered by Australia and ultimately the dysfunction on Nauru and the social unrest on Nauru will be Australia's responsibility. Nauru is simply unable to accommodate and to resource and to resettle, and it says it won't resettle unaccompanied minors or anybody else. Ultimately Morrison will have to bring these people to Australia, it's just what happens in the meantime, whether that's six months, whether that is 18 months, whether he will try to push it through to the next election. But they're not going to Cambodia, no other country is going to take them, ultimately the Australian government will be forced to take them back to Australia. Far better that is done sooner rather than later.
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