19 October 2018

St Vincent de Paul Society calls for immediate transfer of asylum seeker children from Nauru

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has urged the Federal Government to immediately remove asylum seeker and refugee children and their families from Nauru, following an escalation in reports of catastrophic mental and physical ill-health.

“We urge Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum to support the immediate transfer of asylum seeker children and their families from Nauru to Australia to receive medical care,” said Frank Brassil, spokesperson for the St Vincent de Paul Society National Council.

“We have consistently raised concerns about offshore processing and called for a durable and safe solution for all the men, women and children who remain trapped on Manus Island and Nauru.  

“The recent deterioration of conditions on Nauru, the withdrawal of medical care by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and disturbing reports of children self-harming and refusing food and water demonstrate the need for urgent intervention.”

Earlier this week, St Vincent de Paul Society joined 62 faith-based organisations in a joint letter to the Prime Minister and leader of the Opposition, urging them to bring the 85 children and their families to Australia and settle them here or in an appropriate third country that welcomes them.

The future remains uncertain for these children and approximately 1420 asylum seekers and refugees who remain in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.  Fewer than 450 refugees have been resettled under the US deal, nearly two years after the deal was first struck.

The St Vincent de Paul Society, which has an active presence on the ground on Manus Island, stated that a similar emergency to that on Nauru is unfolding on Manus Island, with numerous cases of acute mental and physical ill-health going untreated.

“The human cost of offshore processing has been profound, and urgent action is required to avert further harm and loss of life,” said Mr Brassil.

“After enduring five years of deplorable conditions, endless uncertainty and substandard healthcare, the only humane and responsible option is to immediately secure and identify durable and safe solutions for all of those still languishing on Manus Island and Nauru, including acceptance of the New Zealand offer.”

MEDIA CONTACT: 0400 845 492 or media@svdp.org.au