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Children must be off Nauru 'by November', say advocates

The #KidsOffNauru coalition has demanded that the 119 children on Nauru be released by November

August 28 2018A coalition of more than 150 organisations, including World Vision Australia, St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne, the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has set a three-month deadline for the Australia Government to remove all children being held on Nauru.

The #KidsOffNauru coalition are demanding that the 119 children on Nauru are released by Universal Children’s Day, November 20, and are calling on the Australian public to sign their petition.

The coalition – made up of humanitarian, refugee, church and human rights organisations - has also called for the families of the children to be released.

Addressed to new Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Oppostion Leader Bill Shorten, the petition calls on Australia’s political leaders “to free the 119 children trapped on Nauru by Universal Children’s Day”.

“We would never allow our children to grow up like this,” it reads. “The world refugee crisis is a complex problem – but locking up children is never the answer. Being detained on Nauru is cruel and abusive.”

“We need to bring them here and either offer resettlement in Australia or find another suitable country that welcomes them.”

According to the #KidsOffNauru website nearly 72,000 Australians have already signed the petition.

The chief executive of World Vision, Claire Rogers, said that indefinite detention is "daily causing real and serious harm to these children”.

 “As agencies charged with protecting children’s rights we are inviting all Australians who care about children to join us in demanding these kids be released,” Ms Rogers said.         

Ms Rogers said that the children on Nauru had been forced to languish on an island the same size as Melbourne Airport.

“Many of them have lived for years in tents, they have been separated from close family members and have no safe place to play or access to acceptable medical care. And no hope.”

She said the coalition was calling for common sense, compassion and leadership from the nation’s political leaders.

"These children have been forced to see and endure things that no child should ever see. They should have the chance to rebuild their lives in peace and safety.”

Australia’s political leaders should bring the children and their families to Australia or a third country that will welcome them, said Ms Rogers.

“The clock is ticking. This harmful, secretive and dysfunctional system of indefinite detention must end,” Ms Rogers said.

Australia should invest in humane solutions that both reduced deaths at sea and eliminated abuse, she said.

“One should not come at the expense of the other. The world’s refugee crisis is a complex problem. Locking up children is never the answer.”

Ms Rogers stated that no person of any age should be forced to suffer through indefinite detention.

Other organisations in the coalition include the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the National Council of Churches, Welcome to Australia, Refugee Advocacy Network, Rural Australians for Refugees, Australian Lawyers Alliance, Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru, Plan International Australia, Refugee Legal, Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW and The Body Shop Australia.

If you would like to add your voice to the petition, please visit: https://www.kidsoffnauru.com/