November 24, 2013
A group of unaccompanied child asylum seekers has been transferred from Nauru to Brisbane amid concerns about their mental health and fears they may try to self-harm.
The medical evacuation, which began on Friday, has occurred in part because the Nauruan government has expressed safety concerns about the children.
Further, it is understood that one of the children being medically evacuated is a teenage girl who was only sent to Nauru three days ago. Fairfax Media has been told by well-placed sources one of the girls had attempted suicide on Christmas Island in recent weeks and had also been self-harming but that did not prevent her deportation from Nauru.
It is understood that four children – one boy and three girls – were living on the Pacific island and were not going to school.
A spokeswoman for the Nauruan government confirmed that three children had been transferred off the island on Friday. She was unsure what had happened with the fourth unaccompanied child asylum seeker.
The Nauruan Justice Minister is the legal guardian of unaccompanied minors.
A spokesman for the Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, said: ”Any health transfers occur in accordance with standing policies. The government’s policy is that there are no exceptions to offshore processing. Health services are constantly reviewed to ensure they are provided to the appropriate standard.”
Meanwhile, the independent schools sector has called for asylum seeker children denied education on Christmas Island to be urgently brought to the mainland.
Up to 433 asylum seeker children interred at Christmas Island’s detention centres are being prevented from going to school as the centres swell with asylum seekers.
According to the most recent figures, as the Manus Island and Nauru centres fill, there were , 2217 asylum seekers, including 433 children – 76 of them unaccompanied.
The Immigration Minister’s office referred questions about the children to a November 8 press conference, in which he said no decision had been made about the fate of the children.
”These issues are not insurmountable and I am sure, with continued consultation, that we will be able to put in place appropriate arrangements to meet all of our obligations,” Mr Morrison said. ”And I should stress that no final decisions have been taken on how that matter will be addressed.”