UNICEF urges Australia, Cambodia to protect rights of child refugees in Nauru

Australia will relocate refugees currently being held at this social centre on the Pacific island of Nauru to Cambodia. Photo: UNHCR/N. Wright

17 April 2015 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) raised concerns today regarding reported decisions by the Governments of Australia and Cambodia to start transferring refugees currently in an Australian-funded processing centre in Nauru to Cambodia for settlement.

“According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Australia and Cambodia are both parties, the rights of children are paramount and must be guaranteed in every situation,” said Daniel Toole, UNICEF’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Director in a statement released today. “Article 3 of the [Convention] obliges States to ensure that in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child are a primary consideration.”

The statement recalled that all Governments have a responsibility to protect children’s rights in every circumstance.

“The special needs and rights of children and the additional risks they face must be assessed and properly addressed in any action governments take, as an essential part of the planning and the implementation of that action,” Mr. Toole said. “Governments that take actions that can reasonably be expected to increase the risks children face must accept a special responsibility for the safeguarding of their rights. No government policy or action should knowingly put children’s lives or their wellbeing at increased risk.

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in all its work. It works with partners in 190 countries and territories to translate the commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of children all over the world.


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