UNICEF Australia: We can’t leave refugee children unprotected on Nauru

SYDNEY, 17 October 2016 – UNICEF Australia remains deeply concerned about the situation of refugee children and their families on Nauru in the wake of tonight’s Four Corners episode and calls on Government to allow an independent monitoring body to be permanently based on the island until families are resettled.
 
“The reported decline in children's mental health, well-being and their developmental status is very disturbing.  Based on global experience we know that these levels of psychosocial distress and grief are common when children are in detention-like settings over prolonged periods,” said Amy Lamoin, Head of Policy and Advocacy, UNICEF Australia.  “This outcome is both entirely predictable and preventable when children are in safe, family based environments with adequate support.”
 
“After multiple reports and senate inquiries documenting the extremely harmful situation for children and families on Nauru, the public should not be speculating about the protection and well-being of children and young people on Nauru, or relying on intermittent media reports to better understand their current circumstances.   Genuine transparency is critical. Independent, transparent and regular monitoring and reporting mechanisms are required to ensure children’s protection and safety."
 
“An independent body should routinely monitor children’s access to basic services, their living conditions, their physical and mental health as well as report on any abuse they suffer under current arrangements. Children must have safe and child friendly pathways to report abuse, violence and exploitation with an expectation of a timely response.” 
 
In addition, UNICEF Australia strongly encourages the Government to find a permanent solution for children and families on Nauru as a matter of urgency.
 
“The Australian Government is currently considering options for the resettlement of refugees on Nauru.  We urge the government to continue to place a high priority on this matter.  UNICEF Australia is eager to continue a constructive dialogue with government to this end,” added Ms Lamoin.
 
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For further information and interviews, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334, nmackey@unicef.org.au
 
About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
 
For more information about UNICEF Australia and its work visit: www.unicef.org.au
 
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