Erin Taylor 267.250.8829 (M)
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 10, 2016) — The extensive misery and abuse inflicted on refugee and asylum seeker children and their families on the Pacific island of Nauru has again been brought to light through thousands of leaked incident reports, underscoring the need for the Australian Government to find an immediate resettlement solution, Save the Children says.
Many of the leaked documents, published by the Guardian Australia, involve reporting of incidents by Save the Children staff during our time providing welfare, education and recreational services for asylum seekers and refugees in the Nauru detention center and broader community between August 2013 and October 2015.
Mat Tinkler, Save the Children’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs in Australia said the global aid agency was surprised to see the reporting on a news media site. Save the Children was not involved in the release of the documents.
"We have respected the terms of our contact with the Australian Government, and the Australian Border Force Act, that prevents us from speaking publicly about the specific incidents and conditions that our staff witnessed in the Nauru detention center," Tinkler said. "But while we are surprised to see our incident reporting in the media, we are not surprised about the contents. Again it reinforces what we and others have been saying in broader terms: that Nauru is no place for vulnerable children and continuing to leave them to languish there is doing significant harm."
"The [Malcolm] Turnbull Government should not be surprised either. Save the Children has told the government through various channels of these incidents and the broader conditions and problems on Nauru over several years."
Tinkler said the documents reveal that Save the Children consistently informed Australia’s Immigration Department about each incident of physical abuse, sexual abuse and self-harm involving asylum seekers and refugees — many of them young children — that staff observed on Nauru.
Save the Children later produced an analysis of these reports, which detailed clearly how they broke down by age, type of incident and the harm being caused to children. This analysis was provided to a now defunct Senate inquiry into offshore detention and directly to senior members of the federal Cabinet.
"If the Government of Australia knew of the abuse and self-harm occurring under its watch, why hasn’t it acted?" Tinkler added.
Save the Children is calling for an immediate resettlement solution to be found for refugees and asylum seekers who have been left in limbo on Nauru and Manus Island, in some case for over three years, either in Australia or in an appropriate, developed and humane third nation.
The Australian Government should also provide more safe and humane pathways for refugees to be resettled by increasing its humanitarian intake. And it should restart negotiations with neighboring governments to establish a regional protection framework for asylum seekers.
Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.