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MEDIA RELEASE

Embargoed until 10:30am, Monday 20 August 2018

Canberra, Australia: The Refugee Council of Australia has today joined a renewed campaign to pressure Australia’s political leaders to bring the 119 children currently trapped on Nauru, to Australia.

The #KidsOffNauru Campaign, driven by Australia’s prominent humanitarian and refugee sector organisations, is calling for the urgent evacuation of children off the island and brought to Australia.

RCOA Communications Director Kelly Nicholls said that the organisation was deeply concerned for all of the refugees and asylum seekers trapped on Nauru and PNG but particularly for the 119 children, some of who have been on the island for nearly four years.

“Our position is that no one should be held indefinitely in offshore detention. We remain deeply concerned about the health and wellbeing of these children, who are vulnerable and susceptible to the long-term physical and psychological effects of being detained in inhumane conditions without adequate healthcare or education,” Mrs Nicholls said.

“There have been consistent reports of children attempting suicide and self-harm. Worryingly, in recent months, there has been an escalation of reports of children suffering ‘resignation syndrome’ where they aren’t leaving their beds and they’ve stopping eating, drinking, talking – even going to the toilet.

“With a population of 11,000 people, Nauru does not have the medical or mental health facilities to deal with highly vulnerably group with complex needs.

“These kids cannot get better while they remain trapped on Nauru.”

RCOA understands that in the past six months, Australian courts have ordered 17 children suffering life-threatening psychological or physical illnesses to be brought to Australia despite the protests of the Australian government.

“Our political leaders’ have consistently failed to change their child detention policy while these children continue to go without access to suitable health care, including mental and physical health services,” Mrs Nicholls said.

“Today, we are joining the urgent call for these children and their families to be immediately resettled in Australia.”

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) is the national peak body for refugees and the organisations and individuals who support them.

MEDIA: For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Jackie Hanafie on 0412 652 439 or media@refugeecouncil.org.au

You can download a PDF version of this media release here.