Australia

The clock is ticking to get 119 children out of detention on Nauru

The #kidsoffnauru campaign has been launched today by over 30 humanitarian agencies

The Federal government has been given a deadline: 92 days to get 119 refugee children off Nauru.

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A coalition of humanitarian and aid organisations have launched the #KidsOffNauru campaign today, calling on immigration minister Peter Dutton to either resettle the children in Australia or find another suitable country which welcomes them by November 20, the Universal Children’s Day.

“These children have seen and endured things that no child should ever see,” said World Vision Australia’s chief executive Claire Rogers at a press conference this morning. “Enough is enough. Today we are issuing a deadline to our political leaders to resolve the situation for these children and their families.”

“It is clear that indefinite detention is causing serious and real harm to these children.

“This harmful, secretive and dysfunctional system of detention must end.”

Anglican bishop Phillip Huggins is part of a team who run the Befriend a Child in Detention project from Melbourne, an advocacy group lobbying the government to end detention and encouraging school children to support children held in detention by sending books and letters.

In an article for Melbourne Anglican this month, he outlined his frustration in getting answers from the government about the number of children who remain in offshore detention.

“Part of the tragedy of this is there is a lot of trouble finding out what the circumstances of the children are. It’s been hard even to get clarity about the numbers of children on Nauru,” Huggins told Eternity.

He expressed his bewilderment at claims by Peter Dutton that there were no children left in detention.

“I don’t know how it’s possible to say such things,” he said. “They may not be in detention centres, but there are children on Nauru who aren’t allowed to leave.”

World Vision Australia says the children on Nauru haven’t been counted by the government in their detention numbers because “they aren’t locked up and are able to attend school.”

“You don’t need fences to put children in detention,” Rogers said. “We have removed their liberty.”

Bishop Huggins said that the 92 day deadline given by the #KidsOffNauru campaign was possible, if the issue is “kept before the Australian public” and the government feels the pressure to make a change.

“Children in Australia have been sending them things that will give them heart and hope, messages from kids here whose hearts are touched by the circumstances of the children on Nauru.

“We should listen to the heartfelt wisdom of our own children who respond to these children on Nauru, and resettle them here.”

Organisations who have joined the #kidsoffnauru campaign include World Vision Australia, Oxfam, Amnesty International, Micah Australia, Love Makes A Way, Common Grace, the Refugee Advocacy Network, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney and St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne.

To find out more about #kidsoffnauru and sign the petition, head to the website.

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