THERE were more than 200 Australian children stuck in India without their parents, up from 173 last month, the latest Senate estimates hearings have revealed.
While there has been attention given to Australians stranded overseas, much of this has related to adults.
According to the latest figures, some 35,128 Australians overseas are registered as wanting to come home. Of these, 10,994 are in India, including 209 children.
Last week, foreign minister Marise Payne said that some of the children registered had arrived in India this year, some had never been to Australia and others had arrived there as far back as 2008.
While they have been described as “unaccompanied minors”, the government has stressed they are staying with extended family — and not literally on their own.
They are, however, separated from parents in Australia — or not where their parents want them to be.
Minors under 18 are not allowed on commercial flights without a nominated adult accompanying them — including for the quarantine period.
Given parents are not allowed to travel to get them back, the situation is almost impossible. Some have reportedly resorted to hiring strangers to help get their kids home. As desperate parents seek alternative solutions, young people may become prey to strangers while in transit.
In March 2021, a group of Australian citizens stranded in the United States lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee.
The UN’s Human Rights Committee has already urged Australia to ensure their “prompt return” while the case is considered.
In 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported about 2.8 per cent of Australians come from India. This makes India the second most common country of origin for Australian residents after England (with China in third place)
Human rights experts have urged the Australian government to introduce further measures to bring children back from India.
The also demand the government to allow parents to travel to India to collect their children with specific charter flights to bring them home.