Government declares child refugees will not remain in Australia


Government declares child refugees will not remain in Australia

Max Newman

8 November 2018

About 40 refugee children and their families reportedly have arrived in Australia in recent weeks, after being medically transferred from the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, where successive Australian governments have indefinitely detained asylum seekers.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton last week indicated that the remaining 27 children on the island—many of whom have severe mental health problems after years of trauma and detention—would be evacuated by the end of the year. However, Dutton declared that none of the families would be permitted to stay in Australia.

In effect, they may receive limited medical treatment but will be subjected to equally cruel detention onshore until they can be removed from the country, either by “resettlement” or forced transfer back to the states they fled.

Rather than signalling a relaxation of the inhuman incarceration of innocent people, the move is a cynical bid to placate a public outcry over the barbaric treatment of children, while reinforcing the underlying “Operation Sovereign Borders”—the use of the military to repel all asylum seekers.

The Liberal-National Coalition government is continuing to challenge the right of Australia’s Federal Court to order such medical evacuations, even in the direst of circumstances, in which children suffer “resignation syndrome,” refusing to eat.

Australia’s imprisonment of refugees in concentration-style camps, whether “offshore” or “onshore,” has provided a precedent for the measures announced last week by US President Donald Trump to arrest and imprison all the desperate asylum seekers who manage to enter the US.

This has been a longstanding bipartisan assault on the…

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