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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs