Giving Up On Life
Described as “the island where children have given up on life” Nauru is a hell hole for a 100 children and their families. The families have been there for over five years and 40 of the children born on Nauru know no other life. A life described by one NGO visitor as “barely surviving in a mouldy tent surrounded by barbed wire.”
The range of physical and mental illnesses highlighted and reflected on by the AMA, leading psychiatrists and human rights organisations has done little to move the hardened attitudes of those in government. Andy Hamilton s.j., in a recent article, noted that “when human response is coarsened and the human heart hardened the corruption extends to other areas of life and to other relationships.” This can be seen in the increasingly punitive treatment of children in juvenile justice and the refusal of the Australian government to authorise the evacuation of critically ill children from Nauru to Australia. Refugee support organisations resort to the courts to have children, who have attempted suicide, self- harmed or succumbed to “resignation syndrome,” identified by psychiatrists as total withdrawal from family, friends, food and drink, flown to Australia for treatment.
Positions on the political spectrum have no place when it comes to children The situation on Nauru, described by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as “an affront to the promotion of human rights” cannot continue and we have to find a way out of the border security impasse. Taking intransigent stances to the left or right, clinging to concepts of control and deterrence will not bring a decent, humane and considered solution to the suffering of the people on Nauru and Manus Island. The current campaign #KidsoffNauru aims to have all children out of Nauru by Universal Children’s Day on 20 November. We cling to hope.
Libby Rogerson ibvm