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Commission plea for release of Nauru refugee women and children

Brisbane's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission is joining other Church and community groups in pleading for the release of 9 women and 14 children detained on Nauru for the past two years.

The women and children were among the asylum seekers on board the Tampa in 2001 and were placed on Nauru as part of the "Pacific Solution". Their husbands and fathers were recognised as refugees and are now living in Australia.

Commission Executive Officer Peter Arndt said the men from Iraq and Afghanistan have been given temporary protection visas which precludes them from applying for reunion with their wives and children in Australia.

"Keeping these women and children on Nauru for two years, separated from their husbands and fathers, is heartless," Mr Arndt said. "It is time we had some compassion in the treatment of asylum seekers."

"Keeping families apart as a means of cracking down on people smugglers is inhumane," he said. "The Gospel calls us to promote the dignity of the human person and this situation demands action to restore some dignity to the lives of these 23 refugees."

The Commission is appealing for Catholics to contact their local MP and to urge them to pressure the Government to bring these women and children to Australia.

"The Church must stand up for families who are suffering if we are to promote the Gospel values of compassion and justice," Mr Arndt concluded.

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (Brisbane)

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (Brisbane)
Bishop welcomes wind-down of "unconscionable" Pacific Solution (31/7/03)
Social Justice Council says why Pacific Solution is wrong (28/5/02)
2002 Australian Catholic Bishops' Statement on Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PDF)

2 Sep 2003