The Uniting Church has joined with over 100 secular and faith organisations to call for the release of refugee children on Nauru.
The #KidsOffNauru campaign calls for the 117 refugee children on Nauru to be brought to Australia by 20 November – Universal Children’s Day.
Uniting Church President Deidre Palmer urged new Prime Minister Scott Morrison to work across the political divide to release all refugee children and their families from detention.
“The Uniting Church holds the firm belief that no child should be kept in detention and we join the call for these children and their families to be brought to Australia with a view of finding them a permanent home,” Dr Palmer said.
“We are especially concerned of growing reports of children living on Nauru facing life-threatening health issues.”
Last week, a 12-year-old boy was flown from Nauru to Australia for urgent medical treatment after not eating for 20 days.
Since then there have been more reports of children refusing food and medical treatment, with some diagnosed with resignation syndrome.
Children suffering resignation syndrome increasingly withdraw into themselves as a response to traumatic events.
As the condition progresses, they may enter into a comatose state and stop eating or drinking.
Only 165 of the 939 refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru have been resettled under the US deal.
Many of the remaining 117 children and their families have no hope of resettlement in the US due to their nationalities.
Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton has repeatedly said there are no refugee children left in detention on Nauru.
However, UCA Assembly Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd contested this claim, arguing that refugees on Nauru are essentially trapped on an island that is the size of Melbourne Airport.
“Effectively, these children remain in detention. It is the Uniting Church position that all children should be free from harm and have the opportunity to flourish,” he said.
“While recently many in government seem more interested in power and personality politics, our advocacy on this is more important than ever.
“I encourage you to call on your federal MP to respect the rights and dignity of all, especially children.”
Uniting Church members are encouraged to join the campaign at https://www.kidsoffnauru.com/.
Image: Kids Off Nauru/Facebook