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Monday, 27 October 2014

Teen Asylum Seekers Fear For Their Lives After Weekend Violence On Nauru | newmatilda.com

Teen Asylum Seekers Fear For Their Lives After Weekend Violence On Nauru | newmatilda.com

Teen Asylum Seekers Fear For Their Lives After Weekend Violence On Nauru



By Max Chalmers





As
asylum seekers are released into the community on Nauru, tensions have
begun spilling over, with four boys hospitalised over the weekend. Max
Chalmers reports.




Unaccompanied
minors released from detention centres on Nauru and living among the
community are today fearing for their lives after a series of violent
attacks over the weekend which saw at least four young teens
hospitalised, as tensions between islanders and asylum seekers escalate.



New Matilda has learned four underage asylum seekers were
hospitalised on Sunday night after being attacked while returning to
their accommodation from a day at the beach.



Asylum seekers involved in the incident, aged between 15 and 17, told
New Matilda a group of Naruan men pulled up to them on two motorbikes
as they made the two hour walk back to their housing.



The men are believed to have been intoxicated and began ridiculing the boys.


“They were swearing; fuck Afghanistan, fuck your religion, fuck refugees,” one of the boys told New Matilda.


According to the boys involved, the men stole and destroyed several phones, before attacking them.


“They punch me, they slap me – I was wearing a singlet, they broke my singlet,” one boy said.


“They gave us warning say ‘we will kill you’, and that time I felt very scared, no one can help us, and I don’t have a phone.”


“Everywhere was dark, they were big, big men.”


Multiple death threats were made.


A young unaccompanied minor on Nauru was one of four boys assaulted by Naruan men and hospitalised over the weekend.
A young unaccompanied minor on Nauru was one of four boys assaulted by Naruan men and hospitalised over the weekend.
“They [said] that Save the Children [an NGO working on Nauru] and
Immigration are not able to protect you from us. This is our country and
we can do what we want,” another boy interviewed by New Matilda said.



The violence forced two of the boys to flee to the beach, while the remaining two escaped to a separate location.


New Matilda understands the boys were eventually able to contact Save
the Children employees. They were located by staffers, before being
contacted by Australian Immigration officials and local police, and then
taken to hospital.



One boy’s injuries were serious enough to result in an overnight stay.


Before being found, the boys hid behind a large rock on the beach.


“Same as Afghanistan, it’s not safe here. I was very scared,” one said.


“We came from Afghanistan for peace, not for fighting, not for beating.”


Dianne Hiles, Chair of asylum seeker advocacy group ChilOut,
criticised Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison for sending children
to Nauru.



“We’ve had concerns all along about the conditions in which people are being held on Nauru,” Ms Hiles said.


“The whole ethical responsibility for the state and wellbeing of
these young people rests with our government. They’re financing the
situation; they’ve set it up.



“Whatever the reason for the attack, these boys have been injured and
there has been a huge failure in protecting them. Whoever the guardian
is has not been able to keep these boys safe.”



Morrison is the legal guardian of all unaccompanied minors in
Australian immigration detention, but abrogates that duty once children
are moved to Nauru, as is standard practice under Australia’s current
policy of offshore detention and processing.



New Matilda understands it has now been exactly one month since all
unaccompanied minors held in detention on Nauru, numbering just under
30, were released from closed detention into the community.



They are being housed in three separate areas spread across the island.


One of the unaccompanied minors assaulted recently on Nauru.
One of the unaccompanied minors assaulted recently on Nauru.
Initially overjoyed to be free after a lengthy period of detention on
Christmas Island and then Nauru, the group’s morale has collapsed after
realising the inadequacies of settlement on the tiny island nation.



The unaccompanied minors have been provided with a small allowance on which to live each week, but say it is inadequate.


Travel around the island is hampered by a lack of buses. Water
shortages are frequent, forcing minors to replenish toilets with
seawater.



Their release has also increased tensions with locals and asylum
seekers are reporting frequent abuse and threats, including during
shopping visits and travel around the island.



“The young people, the old people, when they are driving and we are
walking they are showing the middle finger to us,” one asylum seeker
said.



“We need to escape and ignore… it’s very, very painful. Someone is doing something very bad and you’re not able to do anything.”


A group of locals has been established to assist the asylum seekers settle, and provide a point of contact.


Tensions inside the detention centre have also been high in recent
weeks with reports of self-harm surfacing after it was announced asylum
seekers on Christmas Island may be eligible for Temporary Protection
Visas in Australia, while those already transferred to Nauru will not.



The new settlement deal with Cambodia has also inflamed the situation.


Like all asylum seekers settled on the island, the unaccompanied
minors will eventually be moved on as Australia’s deal with Nauru only
guarantees them a place on the island for five years.



There are reports of separate incidents of unprovoked violence
against unaccompanied minors on the island, but New Matilda has not been
able to independently verify them at this stage.



Afraid for their immediate safety, young asylums seekers say they
remain very frightened, and are pessimistic about their future.



“Now we don’t know where we should go. We came from Afghanistan to
save our life, now we don’t know where to go from Nauru to save our
life,” one said.



The teenager made a plea to all Australians.


“Please, you can’t play with our future, you can’t play with our
lives. [The Australian government] are playing now. I want to feel safe,
just, I want to see my future bright, not like here.”



Hiles said the situation was an indictment on Scott Morrison.


“Young Hazara boys in particular are at huge risk in Afghanistan.
Apart from being a persecuted minority, they are actively sought out and
killed and they’ve usually lost family members,” she said.



“They come here, they generally qualify for protection, but we continue to choose to make life as harsh as possible for them.


“We should not be treating young boys like this.”


Save the Children provided the following statment a short time after deadline:


Save the Children is appalled by any instance of assault on refugee
children in Nauru. Unaccompanied child refugees are some of the most
vulnerable – far from home, family and friends, many already witness to
horrors no child should go through. These children deserve every
protection that can be offered.


Save the Children is working flat out to provide the best possible
support to the children in our care. However, Nauru is a small and
remote island nation with a small population and limited resources, and
Save the Children maintains it is not a sustainable solution for refugee
children, particularly those unaccompanied by any family.



New Matilda is seeking comment from Minister Morrison's office.




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