News / Asia

UN Urges Australia Not to Deport Child Detainees

The United Nations is urging Australia not to send any unaccompanied children to Malaysia under a controversial deal to deport asylum seekers.  The first group of asylum seekers expected to be subject to the recently signed agreement is likely to be flown from the Australian territory of Christmas Island to Malaysia in the coming days.  Canberra says 19 of the 55 asylum seekers are children, or claim to be children. More than 12 say they are travelling alone.

The group of asylum seekers was intercepted by the Australian navy before being taken to Christmas Island Thursday. Canberra says they will be the first unauthorized arrivals expelled from Australia and sent to Malaysia, where their claims for refugee status will be processed.

Around a quarter of the group are thought to be children travelling on their own, which raises sensitive moral and logistical problems for the Australian government.

United Nations is urging Australia not to deport unaccompanied minors because of fears over their safety and well-being.

Norman Gillespie from the U.N. children's agency UNICEF says it is alarming that more than a dozen children who have travelled without any family members could soon be expelled.

“We would really be extremely concerned if any unaccompanied minor would indeed be deported in such a way and we note that it will be a case by case basis and we absolutely depend upon the minister to make the right decision in these instances. It is a trauma to come to Australia in this manner. It is an even greater trauma to be then deported,” he said.

The Australian government says that minors will be dealt with on a "case by case" basis, suggesting that not all unaccompanied children seeking asylum will be sent to Malaysia.

It is expected that children who arrive with their parents or another member of their family will be sent to Malaysia.

But Prime Minister Julia Gillard is talking tough and is refusing to guarantee that unaccompanied minors will remain in Australia.

“There will be no blanket exemptions, there are no blanket exemptions. There will be pre-transfer assessments and they will be undertaken properly by the relevant officials,” said Gillard.

Immigration officials say that in the past adults have posed as children to avoid being sent to an Australian detention center.  Bio-metric tests will be carried out on those held on Christmas Island in an attempt to verify their ages.

Immigration is a sensitive issue in Australian politics and the minority Labor government is desperate for the deal with Malaysia to work. Prime Minister Gillard said the agreement would “smash” the business of the people smugglers who have ferried a steady flow of asylum seekers into Australian waters in recent months.

The deal with Malaysia will see Canberra send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 refugees whose claims for protection have been verified by the United Nations.

Since the end of World War II, hundreds of thousands of refugees have resettled in Australia, including Jewish migrants fleeing the aftermath of the Holocaust and Vietnamese boat people escaping conflict in their homeland.  More recently Sudanese refugees who were displaced by civil war have also been allowed to start new lives.

Australia grants visas to about 13,000 refugees under various global treaties.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid