The final four asylum seeker children currently on Nauru will leave with their families for the United States, the Prime Minister has announced. However, the move is yet to be finalised.
In a joint statement with immigration minister David Coleman, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the move vindicated the government’s approach.
“We have got all the children Labor put in detention centres out, and we have shut down all the detention centres Labor opened, including on Christmas Island,” Mr Morrison said.
— Katharine Murphy (@murpharoo) February 3, 2019
Matt Darvas is Micah Australia’s Campaign Director. Mr Darvas welcomed the announcement.
“When the Prime Minister took office in August last year there were 109 children still on Nauru and today this announcement means the final four and their families will be removed,”
“This has been an extraordinary campaign, led by Australia’s humanitarian and refugee sector with many thousands across the country raising their voice on behalf of these children.”
“It has been incredible to watch the momentum build in churches and in the public, and it’s proof that when we raise our voice together, change can happen.”
Many prominent Christian leaders have spoken out on the issue. A broad coalition of church groups joined the Kids Off Nauru campaign in hosting prayer vigils and lobbying politicians.
Love Makes A Way’s Matt Anslow was ambivalent about the announcement.
“When there’s no children left on Nauru — and not before — then I’ll offer congratulations,” Dr Anslow said.
“But certainly not to the government. All they’ve done is to finally heed the words of advocates, doctors, lawyers, churches, the UN, every human rights body, and basically any decent person. They’ve finally caved to public pressure, just in time for the lead up to the election.”
Dr Anslow suggested that others should be congratulated should the move take place, including those who had struggled for the children’s release.
“I’m torn between celebration and despair at the government’s supremely cynical attempt to claim credit.”
The move comes after court rulings that the government must bring the children to Australia for medical treatment and amidst speculation that the government was facing defeat on the floor of parliament over the issue of medical transfers.
As recently as November, Prime Minister Morrison said that the children would return to Nauru once their medical treatment had finished.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor