Child refugees on Nauru have told SBS they fear for their lives after claiming to have been beaten and threatened with death in recent days.
A 16-year-old boy said he was attacked by a group of five Nauruan locals on motorbikes.
He said he was knocked unconscious and needed overnight hospitalisation, while others have also been attacked, suffering head, nose and eye injuries.
“One of them coming down and told me 'do you have lighter for cigarettes?'" he said.
"I told him 'no brother, I don’t have lighter, I don’t smoking', and he say 'why you don’t have lighter f*****g refugee?'
"And then he started to punch me and kick me, and then another guy coming down four or five of them, they come and punch me very hard… I didn’t do anything, I just fall down and all of them kick me and punch me.”
The 16-year-old said refugees are now living in fear for their lives.
“What if Nauruans come to put matches to my house?" he said.
"What I can do? I come here for safety, I come here for respect, I’m coming out of fear because no one can save me there (his home country) and now I am here (Nauru) no one can save me, so where I can go?”
The boy said there are 29 unaccompanied minors who have been placed in three houses in the community. He said they’ve received deaths threats from locals.
“Because the house in the jungle, we don’t have any address also, and then Nauruan people are … going there and telling them 'don’t come outside – if you come outside we kill you. We will kill all of you'," he said.
"And they warning me three times now, Nauruan people warning me three times, they tell me 'we will f*****g kill you'.”
A 17-year-old boy who is on Nauru with family claimed refugee children have been threatened with violence while at school.
He said although some schools received visits from welfare organisation Save The Children, his school doesn’t and that parents are talking about withdrawing their children from education for their safety.
Although the children are now living in Nauru under that country’s laws, refugee advocate Dianne Hiles from ChilOut argued the Immigration Minister must bear responsibility for their welfare.
“I’m sure they’re going to say it’s nothing to do with them, they weren’t there," she said.
"But obviously the buck should stop with them, because they’re the ones financing the whole situation and setting it up and it’s their harebrained idea that Nauru is able to handle an influx of people - it can hardly educate or look after the health of its own population and yet it’s expected to take care of Australia’s responsibilities.”
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has not responded to SBS’s request for information, however he has been reported elsewhere saying that “any attack on a person settled on Nauru was a matter for Nauru.”
Welfare agency Save The Children has been contracted to provide support services for the children, but are not their guardians or protectors.
A Save the Children spokesperson said the organisation is appalled by any instance of assault on refugee children in Nauru, who deserve every protection that can be offered.
They said Save the Children is working “flat out” to provide the best possible support to the children in their care, however, they maintain that Nauru is not a sustainable solution for refugee children, particularly those without family present.