Why don't Australians like refugees?
Protest against Australian refugee camps"No other country in the world does this to children"
"I want to go somewhere nice, but we've been stuck here for five years and five months. We're dying here. It's hot. I want to go somewhere nice, in a park, to the cinema. I have nightmares here."
Words from a seven-year-old child, held in the camp on the barren, barren Pacific island of Nauru. Ahoora's parents left their home in Iran for fear of persecution, and with the hope of a new life they started the perilous journey by boat to Australia. But the country's government is following a strict policy against illegal immigration: no asylum seeker who enters Australian territorial waters by sea should ever come to the mainland. Instead, they end up in reception camps such as on Nauru.
"I take pills for depression, they make me dizzy, and the next day I have a hard time waking up. I always have nightmares here."
Resistance to this policy of offshore storage
The fate of Ahoora and others on the island upsets the children of Australia:
"The children on Nauru are just like us - except that they live in terrible conditions every day!"
A large alliance of human rights groups, child protection groups, churches and charities has increased resistance to this policy of offshore camps. At the weekend, children took to the streets in a protest march in Melbourne, in videos they appeal to the government, all part of the campaign #KidsoffNauru, meaning "Children away from Nauru":
"We call on Australia's political leadership to free all children from the camps on Nauru. We want them to be out of Nauru by World Children's Day at the latest."
So on November 20th, but better yet, they should be freed from the hell in which many of them have already spent their entire lives. The organization Doctors Without Borders is sounding the alarm:
"Many children suffer from a traumatic withdrawal syndrome, they exist in a semi-comatose state, they cannot eat, drink or speak," says the Australian director of MSF, Paul McPhun. The organization had to leave the island this month at the behest of the Australian government.
"During our time on the island, we have seen the mental health of asylum seekers continue to deteriorate rapidly. This is because they are being held indefinitely, some for five years, and there is no end in sight."
A girl complains indignantly: "A ten-year-old boy tried to commit suicide three times. That mustn't be!"
Demonstration in Sydney against the overseas camps in August 2016 (imago stock & people)
The public pressure in Australia is increasing: children take to the streets for children, MPs threaten to block the government - because the liberals ruling with a narrow majority have lost a seat in a by-election at the weekend, so they are dependent on the votes of a few independents. But they make their cooperation dependent on the children from Nauru coming to Australia. Or that the government agrees to an offer from New Zealand - the neighboring country of Australia wants to accept 150 of the asylum seekers. But Prime Minister Morrison rejects this: there is no horse-trading when it comes to protecting borders.
A Somali woman in Camp Five on the island of Nauru: She tried to take her own life. (AFP / Mike Leyral)
On Monday, Morrison officially apologized in a tear-choked voice to the victims of decades of child abuse in Australia. That is nothing but hypocrisy, say critics, and he let the children on Nauru suffer further.
UN speaks of torture
Doctors have been warning for years that the conditions on Nauru are intolerable for everyone, but especially for children. Beth O‘Connor worked as a psychiatrist for MSF on the island:
"When I visited these children, they were in bed. They didn't eat or drink enough to survive. Many of them couldn't go to the bathroom anymore, they got wet and pooped. And when I tried to talk to them , they didn't answer. They just stared right through me. "
Torture is what is happening on Nauru, says the UN. Representatives of the United Nations have visited the reception centers several times. You have urged Australia to urgently change these conditions. So far without result.
"In Great Britain, children of asylum seekers are detained for an average of five days. In Australia it is 15 months - and more. There is no other country in the world that does this to children," says Alanna Maycock, a nurse who worked on the island . "I was only there five days - and now I have nightmares: that my children are there and I cannot reach them. After five days! Can you imagine what that means for the mind of a child who has been there for years?"
"We have to bring them here! Bring them here! Bring them here!"
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