October 8, 2016 / 3:10 AM / 3 years ago

U.N. report slams Nauru for failure to protect refugee children

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A United Nations report has slammed the tiny-Pacific island nation of Nauru for it’s failure to protect asylum seeker children from sexual abuse inside the country’s Australian-run detention center.

Under Australia’s hard-line immigration policy, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach the country by boat are sent for processing to a camp in Nauru or to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and are not eligible for resettlement in Australia.

“The Committee in concerned at the inhuman and degrading treatment, including physical, psychological and sexual abuse, against asylum seeking and refugee children living in the Regional Processing Centres,” the report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said.

The report also highlighted the lack of basic services, such as clean drinking water and mental health support for the 70 children, who are among the over 500 asylum seekers detained on Nauru.

Australia’s offshore processing camps for asylum seekers have been heavily criticized by human rights groups over allegations systemic abuses of the detainees, including sexual assault of women and children.

A series of self-immolations and other incidents of self-harm by asylum seekers on Nauru, led to the death of at least one refugee in May.

“Australia can’t escape it’s own responsibility, nothing happens on Nauru without Australia’s approval,” Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition said.

The Australian government contracts a private company to manage the detention facility’s on Nauru and in PNG.

A spokesperson from the Nauru government and the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection did not respond to request to comment on the report.

The report comes amid uncertainty over the future of the center, as the company contracted to run the facility, in April said they would not continue to do so after 2017. [nL3N17X03H]

Reporting by Jarni Blakkarly; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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