Offshore camps

Amid reports of sexual abuse in detention, Australian government ‘prioritizes’ women and child refugees

Protesters from the Refugee Action Coalition outside the offices of the Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Sydney, April 29, 2016. (REUTERS/David Gray)

Amid leaked reports of sexual predation, physical violence, and self-harm, the Australian immigration minister, Peter Dutton, has said that resettling women and child refugees from the offshore detention on the island of Nauru is a “first priority.” Last month, The Guardian published more than 2,000 leaked incident reports from Nauru, that included details of systemic sexual and physical violence against refugees and asylum seekers, privation and degrading treatment and epidemic rates of self-harm and suicide attempts.

“Be assured the government wants to get particularly women and children out as a first priority from Nauru — we’re working on that,” the minister told Sky News from New York, where he was attending a U.N.-sponsored summit on migrants and refugees.

The plan is not, however, to bring them to Australia for processing or resettlement — as refugee rights activists have called for — but to identify a third country where they could be sent. The conservative government’s declared policy is that no person held in offshore detention — an element of a hardline border-protection plan — will ever be allowed to settle in Australia.

At the New York summit, Australia was accused by the British-based Overseas Development Institute of leading a “race to the bottom on refugee protection.”

A report released last month by Amnesty International, about the conditions for refugees under Australian detention on Nauru, included accounts of a woman who suffered severe pain after enduring genital mutilation being denied medical treatment, and another who went through labor on a bed without a mattress.

In 2015, protests organized by the group Friends, Families and Feminists Against Detention (FFFAD), called for the permanent resettlement from Nauru to Australia of an alleged rape victim, Abyan, an end to sexual violence to refugees, and for the closure of all offshore processing facilities.

A protester holds a placard during a rally in support of refugees in central Sydney, October 19, 2015. (REUTERS/David Gray)

A protester holds a placard during a rally in support of refugees in central Sydney, October 19, 2015. (REUTERS/David Gray)

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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