A teenage Vietnamese asylum seeker has written to the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen accusing him of neglecting his duties as the guardian of children in detention.

The young woman says a group of Vietnamese asylum seekers held in the Darwin Airport Lodge facility feel they have been “forgotten” by Mr Bowen after 400 days in detention.

In her letter to Mr Bowen she asks how he is looking after 23 of the group who are children – including a six and seven-year-old – as their legal guardian.

She says they all feel “depressed and sad” and that their youth is being wasted because they are being denied release into community detention.

The woman says they have been offered counsellors, but do not want to talk any more.

A spokesman for Mr Bowen says the children are being kept in detention in Darwin out of concern for their welfare, and because there is a risk they may abscond.

But the girl who wrote the letter says the Minister is being unfair, penalising them because Vietnamese boys have escaped in the past.

Rohan Thwaites from the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support Network says the children should be released.

“I think its disgraceful that people are being detained essentially on their ethnicity,” he said.

“Arrangements could and should be made for her to live in the community in a safe and secure environment.”

The woman who penned the letter says after 400 days in detention, the group is being pressured to sign agreements to return to Vietnam.