The United Nations refugee agency has warned Australia to keep in mind the best interests of children after the High Court gave its consent to deportation of asylum seekers to Nauru.
A Bangladeshi detainee, who was brought to Australia for treatment and gave birth to her daughter in Brisbane, filed a case in HC against Nauru. UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Rupert Colville said that around 260 refugees in Nauru were suspected to suffer from mental illness. Among them 37 were babies, while 54 were children.
Colville said that compelling them to return to Nauru in such situation will worsen their health even more. This might prompt inhumane treatment to the asylum seekers.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said that the cases of 267 people in Australia, who are suspected of suffering from mental illness, will be considered individually based on the medical advice prescribed. He said that he had no intention of playing with the lives of children. “We have to be compassionate on one hand but we have to be realistic about the threat from people smugglers,” he said as quoted by The New Daily Australia. “We’re acting in the best interests not only for these children but children that would follow them.”
UN spokesman Benyam Mezmur said in a statement that the decision by the court has raised concerns as the children and their families might have to face great risk by deporting to an unsafe place.
According to The New Daily, Greens MP Adam Bandt told reporters in Canberra it was a test of humanity for the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in deciding to send children back to Nauru. Meanwhile, AAP reported that churches and cathedrals have offered to accommodate the 267 people.
‘We offer this refuge because there is irrefutable evidence from health and legal experts that the circumstances asylum seekers, especially children, would face if sent back to Nauru are tantamount to state-sanctioned abuse,” Anglican Dean of Brisbane Peter Catt said in a statement.