Aid groups call on Pacific leaders to demand Australia closes Nauru camp

The 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum will hold its annual summit in Nauru from September 3-6. Aid groups are demanding delegates condemn "Australia's Guantanamo".

This two-year-old child is one of many on Nauru.

This two-year-old child is one of many on Nauru. Source: World Vision

Amnesty International has joined 80 other NGOs in urging Pacific leaders demand the closure of the Australian-funded immigration detention camp on Nauru  when they meet in the tiny island nation next week.

The 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) will hold its annual summit in Nauru from September 3-6, with delegates meeting just a few kilometres from the camp dubbed "Australia's Guantanamo".

Amnesty, along with the 80 other non-government organisations, released an open letter calling on PIF leaders to act and end "a stain on the region".

"Pacific island leaders cannot ignore this issue any longer and need to ensure that it is at the very top of the forum's agenda," Amnesty's Pacific researcher Roshika Deo said on Thursday.

Some of the children in the refugee camp on the island of Nauru.

"This is a desperate situation that requires urgent action. Regional leaders must show that they will not stand by while the Australian government's abusive policies continue to risk more lives."

The rights groups said asylum-seekers on Nauru and PNG's Manus Island were subjected to "cruel and degrading treatment" that must stop.

"(There are) widespread reports of violence against refugees in Papua New Guinea and violence and sexual harassment of women and children on Nauru," the letter said.

There are more than 200 people in the Nauru facility, according to the Refugee Council of Australia, including dozens of children.

The island of Nauru is home to a refugee camp - but will also host international delegates.
Source: Getty Images

Rights advocates say they are suffering mental health issues under the strain of indefinite detention, with reports of despondent children harming themselves.

However, the Canberra-bankrolled facility has been an economic lifeline for Nauru, which has an area of only 21 square kilometres and has depleted its only natural resource, phosphate.

The Nauru government has imposed strict conditions on media covering the PIF summit, threatening to revoke journalists' visas if they capture images of the camps or asylum-seekers.

It has also limited the number of reporters attending and barred the ABC, after taking exception to its coverage.

Published 30 August 2018 at 5:44pm, updated 30 August 2018 at 7:08pm
Source: AFP - SBS