Tuesday, 04 March 2014

Church offers sanctuary for children without parents on Christmas Island

The Uniting Church in Australia has written to the Australian Government to offer sanctuary for all children without parents currently held on Christmas Island.

The Church's offer was prompted by information that children without parents being detained on Christmas Island have been scheduled for imminent deportation to offshore facilities on Nauru.

"We are well placed to offer these vulnerable young asylum seekers a place of sanctuary where we can ensure their wellbeing," said Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney.

"Since the 1980s our Church has been directly involved in the protection and care of child asylum seekers without parents," said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

"Our extensive networks stand ready to take these young people into our custody where they will be given the support and care that they need and deserve."

National Director of UnitingJustice Australia Rev. Elenie Poulos explained that Nauru is entirely unsuitable for all asylum seekers, especially children without parents.

"In October last year, the UNHCR visited the detention centre on Nauru and recommended its immediate closure. They explicitly highlighted the inadequacy of the facilities for all children – especially those without parents.

"The recent tragedy on Manus Island has highlighted the complete inadequacy of these offshore centres for the safety and wellbeing of those seeking asylum," said Rev. Poulos.

"The Uniting Church will not stand by and watch as the lives of children are decimated by brutal government policies."

The Uniting Church conveyed its offer to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection's office on Monday 3 March. It remains willing and ready to accommodate and care for this particularly vulnerable group of child asylum seekers.