2018 has had us gripped by terror and tragedy surrounding children: the brave Thai schoolboys trapped in a cave; tearful migrant families separated at the US border. But what about the crisis in our own backyard?
Damning reports have (quietly) flooded in revealing that the kids of Nauru are not ok. Detained on the island while their parents seek asylum – in conditions routinely described as harrowing, horrifying and inhumane – many have lost the will to live. Some have stopped eating; others are self-harming. One child poured petrol over herself; another ate metal wire. One healthcare worker formerly employed on the island disclosed that the children were Googling ways to die.
But finally, following mounting political pressure, we’ve got a glimmer of good news.
Former attorney-general George Brandis has said that all remaining children of refugees and asylum seekers are likely to be transferred from the island by the end of the year. Meanwhile, Scott Morrison told reporters that the number of children on Nauru had halved over the past nine weeks. According to The Australian, there are now only 40 kids living on the island (other reports say 38), compared to 52 last week. It is believed that the transferred children are receiving urgent treatment in hospitals across Australia (with their families).
But their futures remain precarious.
Speaking on Radio National, Tony Abbott said that the families “are not being resettled in Australia ... They are coming to Australia to be treated but the government has made its position absolutely crystal clear that people who come to Australia illegally by boat will never be able to settle here permanently.”
And so the plight of these children is anything but over. Join the petition to free them from Nauru by Universal Children’s Day on 20 November, and follow the campaign at #KidsOffNauru.