Nauru 'asylum teenagers' start Facebook page despite ban

Drawing by a refugee child is titled "Hiding from Reality" Image copyright Free the Children NAURU
Image caption This drawing by a refugee child is titled "Hiding from Reality"

A Facebook page has been set up highlighting the plight of children in an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru, where the social site is banned.

The BBC has been told three asylum seekers on Nauru, aged 12 to 16, run the Free the Children NAURU page.

It features personal messages and artwork from children living in the detention centre.

Anyone who tries to reach Australia by boat to claim asylum is held in offshore centres, including on Nauru.

Australian government figures show that 92 children are in the Nauru centre, located about 4,500km northeast of Australia.

Nauru has banned Facebook across its tiny nation since April, saying social media can create instability.

It is not clear if the children who run the page will face any punishment if caught.

'Hear our voices'

Image copyright Free the Children NAURU
Image caption A caption accompanying this photo says the boy pictured is an Iraqi refugee who was on Christmas Island before coming to Nauru

The Facebook page appears to have been started around 2 November.

The BBC has made contact with a person claiming to be the page moderator.

The person, who is not in Nauru, said they set up the page and advised the three page curators.

They use virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around Nauru's block on Facebook.

A message passed to the BBC, said to be from one of the teenagers, said: "We want everyone to hear our voices and the situation we [are] going through. We want others to gives us hope and to help us to cope with [this] bad situation.

"We thought if we create this page many other [people] can see us and [walk] in our shoes."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australian government figures show that 92 children are held in the detention centre on Nauru

Under Australia's Border Force act it is illegal for anyone employed directly or indirectly by the immigration department to talk to the media about detention centre operations.

Charity Save the Children's offices on Nauru have been raided twice in an effort to find the source of an email that was leaked to the media.

But Save the Children told the BBC that the organisation was not responsible for the Free the Children NAURU page.

The group was providing education and welfare services for migrant children and families on Nauru until its contract expired last month.

Australia's government has been urged to remove children from the Nauru detention centre, with a senate committee report in September stating that conditions were not "appropriate or safe" for detainees.

Australia and asylum

  • Many asylum seekers - mainly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Iran - travelled to Australia's Christmas Island by boat from Indonesia.
  • The number of boats rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people died making the journey.
  • To stop the influx, the government adopted hard-line measures intended as a deterrent.
  • Everyone who arrives by boat is now detained and processed in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Those found to be refugees will be resettled in Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia.

Is Australia's Cambodia solution 'an expensive joke'?

Australia's controversial asylum policy

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