We’re getting pretty used to horror stories out of Nauru but this one is hard to top.
In the dead of night on June 4, the Government spirited away a five-month-old baby and her parents to the detention centre on Nauru.
Asleep in the Melbourne immigration centre, they were roughly woken by officers and hustled on to a plane. Not even their lawyer was told about the transfer.
This beautiful five-month-old girl – ‘Asha’ – is one of a number of babies born in Australia to asylum seeker parents who are all due to be sent to Nauru under the Government’s offshore detention policies.
Before the forced transfer to Nauru, Asha was thriving.
But Asha’s mother was so stressed by the forcible transfer, she felt she wasn’t producing enough breastmilk to feed her baby.
The replacement formula she was initially given made Asha sick, so there were days when she was screaming with hunger.
Asha’s family, like other families on Nauru, lives in a mouldy tent that leaks when it rains. There are rats in the compound.
The overcrowded living conditions make communicable disease a real threat to a tiny baby. With inadequate mosquito protection for Asha, dengue fever is also a risk.
No wonder Asha’s parents are worried sick about her.
It’s simple: Nauru detention is no place for babies
What makes this situation even more heartbreaking is that there is a wealth of evidence to show that putting children in detention on Nauru is incredibly harmful.
The Australian Human Rights Commission found at least one in three children in detention is suffering a mental illness requiring psychiatric care – the stats are worse for Nauru.
And the Government’s own Moss Review found evidence of physical and sexual abuse against children and women in detention on Nauru.