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Pacific Forum leaders urged to pressure Aus over Nauru refugees

03 September 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Williams-Lahari -

A new report claiming to lift the lid on secrecy shrouding Australia's offshore processing centre on Nauru has just been released.

The report from the Refugee Council of Australia is aimed at regional leaders - many of them landing in Nauru today for tomorrow's formalities and a high-level retreat on Wednesday.

The report follows a call from Amnesty International last week calling out Australia on the conditions which have led to horrific instances of self-harm and severe mental and medical 'withdrawal' trauma for patients - including children as young as seven years old - denied overseas treatment and forced to remain on Nauru.

Photo/ Refugee Council of Australia.

Kelly Nicholls of the Refugee Council of Australia says the report's findings provide sobering reading for Pacific leaders but at the end of the day, it is Australia and not Nauru, who must take responsibility for those who are literally dying to get the help they need. 

"The Australian government took them to Nauru... and so we hope this report is an opportunity to shed light on the 109 children in real suffering," she says. 

The council is circulating the report to regional leaders and the Australian government in a bid to spread the word because "the government has done as much as they can to shroud it all in secrecy, which hasn't succeeded for them," says Nicholls. 

"We need to get information out there to help the discussion, based on facts, and these are facts, very very terrifying facts, on what has been happening over the last six years."

In press conferences over the weekend, President Baron Waqa and senior minister Charmaine Scotty say leaders aren't going to the Processing Centre to visit the inmates in detention; countering with claims that those featured in news reports are using media attention to get out of Nauru and into Australia.

But Nicholls says it's time for Australia to step up and own the situation.

"These issues are the Australian government's responsibility, and so, within the regional (Forum) leaders, all that they can do is offer to resettle as the New Zealand government has done, and put some pressure on the Australian government to do the right thing."

Tags: Australia, Nauru,