The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Abbott government to back up its words in parliament and release, and rehabilitate, all children, including four-year-old Febrina, who are being seriously damaged by incarceration on Nauru.
Febrina (pictured, aside, a year ago) was one of 157 Tamils, including 37 children, apprehended at sea last July by Australian authorities and secretly detained for a month in the hull of a customs vessel. They were then transferred to Nauru after the government failed to return them, either to India or Sri Lanka.
“We spoke to the families a few days ago. It’s a hellish situation especially for the children,” said Tamil Refugee Council spokesman, Trevor Grant.
“Febrina is the like the rest of the little kids there. She’s wasting away. She’s lost about 15 per cent of her body weight, dropping from a healthy 15 kg down to between 12-13 kg. She’s been sick many times and kept in isolation.
“She’s bewildered and frightened. She doesn’t eat a lot of the time. It’s the same for the other kids. Another five-year-old boy has dropped from 18kg to 15kg.
“Since the Australian government took over her life six months ago, Febrina has become a hollow remnant of the little girl in the picture, which was taken just over a year ago.
“Slowly but surely life is being crushed out of her and all the other little children on Nauru. This government is directly responsible for their dire situation. They should be brought to Australia immediately for rehabilitation before it’s too late.
“Prime Minister Abbott and Attorney-General Brandis have loudly condemned the timing of the release of the Human Rights Commission report into the suffering of children behind razor wire because it says it is doing far more than Labor did to get children out of detention.
“If it wants to claim the high ground then it should release these children who they’ve kept locked away for more than six months in a dehumanising hell-‐hole.
“This isn’t a numbers game. It’s an issue of humanity. A little girl, along with more than 100 others on Nauru, is rotting away on Abbott’s watch.
“We say to Abbott and his Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton. Don’t just talk. Act.”
For further information contact Tamil Refugee Council on 0400 597 351.