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Oxfam: Nauru should be closed

Responding to reports on the abuse being inflicted on children held in offshore detention on Nauru, Oxfam Australia have said Nauru should close.

Oxfam’s Director of Public Engagement Pam Anders said, “Evidence of the systemic and cruel abuse being suffered by children and families on Nauru should compel the Australian Government to close the dysfunctional offshore detention centre.”

“The appalling level of trauma and abuse is an indictment on the Australian Government,” said Anders.

It has been reported by The Guardian that more than half of 2,116 leaked incident reports from the centre on the Pacific island of Nauru involved children. It has also been reported that the files contained disturbing evidence of assaults, sexual abuse, attempts at self-harm, child abuse and miserable living conditions.

“The people detained offshore should have their claims processed quickly and be offered resettlement in Australia if they are successful,” Anders said.

“Australia has the capacity to accept more refugees and asylum seekers – vulnerable people who should not be forced to live in traumatic conditions in offshore centres.

“Offshore detention comes at a great cost to all involved. The cost to detainees in terms of mental health, wellbeing and psychological harm is immeasurable. There is also a significant financial cost, which is difficult to accurately estimate, but is certainly over $1 billion.”

Oxfam has called for an end to offshore detention and the processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island.

“Recent evidence of the horrific abuse of children in the Don Dale Detention Centre in Darwin prompted a swift response from the Government,” said Anders. “The Government is equally obliged to respond to [yesterday’s] revelations.”

Peak body for aid and international development, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and peak body for social welfare, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) have called for a Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse at Nauru.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said, “The Royal Commission already has the power to investigate the treatment of children in these centres. With more than 1,000 documented cases of child abuse, including many involving sexual abuse, it is clear the Commission must act.”

ACFID and ACOSS called for the immediate transfer of children and their families from immigration detention on Nauru to community arrangements in Australia given the leaked files have again demonstrated that the situation on Nauru is not safe for children.

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