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Australia: Future still uncertain for detained children from Nauru

04 November 2018
Australia: Future still uncertain for detained children from Nauru

The Home Affairs Minister says the main reason children are being taken off Nauru and brought to Australia is because of the cost, not due to medical reasons.

Scott Morrison on Tuesday said the government was "quietly" removing children from the island nation, telling reporters this week the number had halved over the past nine weeks.

"We are encouraged that politicians are finally starting to listen to the Australian people, many of whom have expressed disgust at the situation on Nauru".

Humanitarian medical professionals expelled from Nauru last month, Doctors Without Borders, said asylum seekers there had become suicidal and their children had lost hope. "I haven't been showboating about it, I haven't been drawing attention to it".

Ahead of a crucial Sydney by-election last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison flirted with the idea of allowing some refugees to be transferred to New Zealand, although they would still be blocked from entering Australia. Anyone who attempts the journey is now sent to remote camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manu Island for processing.

A recent poll commissioned by Sydney's Sunday Telegraph - a tabloid that usually supports the right-leaning government - found 79 percent of Australians surveyed want children and their families transferred off Nauru.

About 1,100 asylum-seekers remain on Nauru and 46 children have been born in detention since 2012.

"Children as young as seven and 12 are experiencing repeated incidents of suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol, and becoming catatonic", the report said.

Mr Dutton said the decision by people on Nauru to reject a move to the United States showed they were more likely to be economic refugees and were not truly desperate for a safe home. "We have seen children not eating or drinking for days, in a comatose state".

The federal government has set an unofficial timeline to have asylum seeker children moved from Nauru to Australia by the end of 2018, The Australian reported on Thursday. "The mental and physical conditions of these children on Nauru have been devastating".

"It is good news that the children will be taken off Nauru, something the sector has been calling on for many years".

"It's taken court hearings and a groundswell from the community to get the government to act to get these kids off Nauru", Newhouse said.

"Let's not forget, this news is completely opposite to what the government has been saying was possible, and they are still continuing to fight medical transfer cases in the courts", Neumann said, referring to the government's opposition to allowing adult asylum seekers into Australia for medical treatment.

"My judgment at the moment, based on all of the advice available to me, is New Zealand would be a pull factor at this point in time", Dutton told Sky News, fearing refugees would only return to Australia.

Mehdi, 38, said it was great news that all the kids are being moved off Nauru, and they should have first priority.