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POST TIME: 4 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Pacific summit opens amid concerns over refugee children
AFP

Pacific summit opens amid concerns over refugee children

Leaders shield themselves from the rain with umbrellas during the opening ceremony of the Pacific Islands Forum in Yaren yesterday. Pacific leaders opened their annual diplomatic summit in Nauru, but the ceremony was overshadowed by allegations that children of asylum-seekers on the tiny Pacific island have been traumatised by systemic abuse. AFP PHOTO

YAREN: Pacific leaders opened their annual diplomatic summit in Nauru yesterday, but the ceremony was overshadowed by allegations that children of asylum-seekers on the tiny Pacific island have been traumatised by systemic abuse, reports AFP.

Nauru President Baron Waqa formally welcomed delegates to the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum, saying the summit was a chance to demand the world take urgent action on global warming.

However, when the Nauruan leader faced a rare grilling from the media, questions centred on the plight of those detained on the remote island under an agreement with Australia.

A report released Monday said the mental health of asylum-seekers was buckling under the strain of indefinite detention, adding that "those who have seen this suffering say it is worse than anything they have seen, including in war zones."

"People are broken," said the report, co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. "Children as young as seven and 12 are experiencing repeated incidents of suicide attempts, dousing themselves in petrol, and becoming catatonic."

The report estimates there are 900 asylum-seekers on Nauru, including more than 100 children.