November 21, 2013
Asylum seeker advocates say an unaccompanied teenage girl has been sent to Australia’s immigration detention centre on Nauru.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) has obtained two photos showing a young girl getting off a flight.
On the tarmac is an orange witches hat that says Air Nauru. The only other people in the photos are ground staff and a police officer.
Pamela Curr from the ARSC says the girl came off the plane first and alone.
“While she was on Christmas Island, the Minister for Immigration was her guardian,” she told ABC’s PM program.
“When he authorised the placing of her on a plane and sending her offshore, he cut that, he himself cut that legal responsibility and placed her in danger.”
On Friday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison confirmed there were three other unaccompanied minors on Nauru.
ChilOut, a not-for-profit organisation that wants to end children in detention, says there are more than 100 children detained on Nauru.
The organisation’s campaign director, Sophie Peer, says she is extremely disappointed but not shocked that an unaccompanied minor is on Nauru.
“We knew that Minister Morrison, even as the guardian for these vulnerable children, did plan to send them to remote detention on Nauru indefinitely,” she said.
“We certainly ask of him to reconsider and to bring these children where they belong, back to the mainland of Australia and to be treated as children.”
Advocates highlight sex assault risk
Ms Peer says the conditions on Nauru are not appropriate for a young girl on her own.
“What we understand is, of course, insufficient power, insufficient water [on Nauru],” she said.
“The people are living in Army-style tents that have no air conditioning. It’s hot. It’s dusty. There’s absolutely no privacy. It’s quite a long walk to the toilet block from the accommodation tents.”
Ms Curr says there have been sexual assaults reported in other detention centres.
“There’s always that risk,” she said.
“We know from young men, unaccompanied minors who are sent to Manus, that they made allegations of being raped. We don’t know what is going to happen to this girl.”
A statement from the Immigration Minister sent to the ABC says it is government policy that families who arrive illegally by boat are sent to Nauru and there are no exemptions to the policy.
It also says the publication of images of asylum seekers can place relatives of those persons at risk in their home countries.