More Boat People…

I heard that Uganda took in 6 million refugees recently…we have 14 or 15 wanting to come in on a boat and it makes national news…we need to get over ourselves ! Here are some stats –

They [boat people] make up less than four per cent of people who come to Australia seeking asylum, yet never fail to generate an astonishing political and media storm.

So here are some facts: more than 96 per cent of asylum seekers arriving in Australia step off planes, not boats. Furthermore, the vast majority of boat arrivals are typically found to be genuine refugees – those fleeing for their lives and safety, not simply seeking better lives in wealthier nations. Far from being “illegal immigrants” they are exercising the right to seek asylum under international law.

Yet right now our Government is actually considering paying Indonesia, a country which has not signed the UN Convention on Refugees, to swoop in on people desperately seeking refuge in Australia before we’ve even had a chance to hear their claims.

In Indonesia, this group of asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and several children, will be placed in immigration detention until they are processed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Despite financial assistance from the Australian Government and the International Organisation for Migration, Indonesian detention centres are over-crowded and under-resourced.

Asylum seekers in Indonesia face arbitrary and indefinite detention until the UNHCR processes their claims. Amnesty International is concerned that the UNHCR has limited capacity in Indonesia and asylum seekers may be forced to spend extended periods in detention while waiting to apply for refugee status.

Refugees in Indonesia do not have the right to work, send their children to school and have no recourse to a more permanent status. Their only hope of a durable solution is to be selected for resettlement to a third country through the UNHCR, a process that can take more than six years.


5 thoughts on “More Boat People…

  1. thanks for this post Scott. I am so discouraged of late by the hysteria these recent arrivals have evoked.
    I thought Rudd at least was better than this, but I suppose I was wrong. The inexorable dynamics of politics seem to be bringing out the worst in him and we are all the poorer for it.
    I saw a recent poll that indicates that a small majority of Australians are still opting for the paranoid, mean-spirited attitude that I encountered often on street corners in good old conservative ‘Christian’ Toowoomba, ie., “drown them!” whenever I stood there advocating for a fairer, more humane and sensible approach.
    Feeling deeply saddened again.

  2. Hi Scott,

    Quite sad really that even once in indonesia they are then not given the right to work to help themselves and send their children to schooling. I suppose there is no easy answer as far as Australia is concerned – as in there is no answer that will be quick, easy and without cost – but helping people in need never is without those things is it?
    Its a shame in a way that government chooses the solution on your behalf, when many people with passionate beliefs and opinions would consider housing and caring for these people who are mostly fleeing for their own safety.

  3. hey Scott,
    it’s good you brought this up, i have been following the news and feel like theres gotta be a more humane way to deal…the question is “what would Jesus do” if here were here today?
    i would like to see the number of refugee’s, from 15,000 to a higher number.
    But is this all we can do?


  4. Hi Scott,
    This blog post is famous as it was referred to in a message at York st COC in Victoria. It is a great post and it articulates so well some of my thoughts.

    It makes me pretty angry that refugees are treated this way. My husband noted yesterday that people get very upset about live animal exports but do not seem to care about the way refugees are treated such as those aboard the Oceanic Viking.

    We should be ashamed.

  5. Thank you Scott, it is a relief to read an account of this situation. It flies in the face of the oft-repeated but still not true general media consensus.

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