Migrant and asylum seeker children facing immense trauma in detention

BBC reported earlier this week that the migrant camp in Lesbos, Greece, is finding alarming rates of children self-injuring and attempting suicide. The Moria camp holds around 7000 children in overcrowded facilities.

The detention of migrant and refugee children is a widespread issue globally. Over the past year, it is estimated almost 70,000 migrant children have been held in U.S. government custody.

Australia reportedly held 119 children on offshore immigration detention on Nauru in August 2018. 46 children were born in indefinite detention on Nauru since 2012. Children as young as 8 had been reported as displaying suicidal behavour. Reports of children on hunger strikes, as well as widespread abuse of children in immigration detention were rampant.

By February 2019, all children held in Australia’s offshore immigration detention on Nauru had been moved out.  However, reports show that in January of 2019, a total of 9,312 children had been held in Australia’s onshore detention facilities, which have been described as prison-like.

Article 27 of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child states that children have the right to “a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development”. It has been found that any period of detention can inflict psychological trauma on children.

The trauma experienced by asylum seeker children are well documented. In 2017, Sweden was documenting cases of ‘resignation syndrome’, in which the impacts of extreme trauma can cause children to withdraw and in some extreme cases, stop eating and speaking.

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