Children attempting suicide in Nauru


The August 22 edition of L’Osservatore Romano devoted prominent front-page coverage to the suffering of child migrants detained on Nauru.

“Tragedies linked to immigration are not limited to the Mediterranean, North Africa or the border between Mexico and the United States.

There are other routes that do not make it into the international news headlines, but that see just as much immigrant traffic and are often the scene of even worse conditions.”

Two new reports from two refugee organisations have detailed cases of adult and child trauma sustained by people in Nauru who are seeking asylum.

This week New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, along with Australian and other Pacific Island leaders, will be on Nauru – an island about the size of Auckland’s Rangitoto – for the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting.

Ardern says there is nothing New Zealand can do about it.

“As far as I’m concerned, we have made our position abundantly clear. New Zealand is here and willing to help. We’ve made the offer both to Australia and directly to Nauru.

“Really it’s beyond our own capacity to deliver on it.”

When asked whether her hands were tied she said: “You could say that.”

Overwhelming evidence of abuse

The Refugee Council of Australia report, released on Monday, says there is overwhelming evidence of abuse.

It reports that experts assessing people on Nauru say they are among the “most traumatised they have seen, even more traumatised than those in war zones or in refugee camps around the world.”

Children as young as 7 are making repeated suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol, and becoming catatonic.

And in an interview with the BBC Natasha Blucher, detention advocacy manager at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC), said ASRC works with about 15 children who have either made repeated suicide attempts or are regularly self-harming.

She said she was unable to share details of specific cases due to privacy and safety concerns.

 They are “working the system”

President Baron Waqa, in an interview with Australia’s Sky News which was broadcast on Saturday, said: “We tend to think that these kids are pushed into something that they’re not aware of.

“It’s a way of working the system and probably short-circuiting it just to get to Australia.”

He blamed the Australian advocates for the plight of refugee children detained on the island.

It offered no evidence for this claim.


Additional reading

News category: Asia Pacific.

Tags: , ,