Tuesday 21 December 2010 - This awkward feeling toward the refugee issue
On December 15th 2010, 27 refugees died on a fish boat on the shores of Christmas Island. This island is located in the area od the Indonesian Java Island, 500 km from Indonesia and 2,600 km North East from Perth. Christmas Island is a retention center for refugees and asylum seekers. Many asked how a boat tranporting nearly 100 people could crash itself on the island without being stopped by the Australian Marine Force and Customs authority. On top of that, the weather condition were particularly bad and rescue forces took time to arrive. Ten years ago, disembarkment of 438 men, women and children became a politcal turnmoil between Canberra and the Marine Force because the first one was not keen on refugges rescue missions and the second wanted to apply current safety and rescue policies. So some ask how it could arrive ?
The refugees question is controversial in Australia since the country knows regular inlfux of asylum seekers. The visa obtention should follow the 1951 Refugee Convention from UNCHR which stipulates that status should be granted on race, religion or country of origin criteria. But in reality, depending on the political atmosphere, some countries may beneficit a different process... And it can encourage some countries to go to Australia because their country are in war and they hope they would get a better chance to enter the country. But it can also lead to long period of detention in place like Christmas Island where the detention condition are deteriorated every year.
For your information, the percentage of refugees is small (2%) compared to the total input of migrants which is mainly targetting professionals and students. At the end of the day, refugees may represent a proportion of one against 1,100 Australians. In comparison to others countries such as the USA or UK, Australia has 4.5 less asylums requests and 5 time less than the USA. In addition, refugees do not get monetary compensation as long as their situation is not regularized
But during the last federal election, Tony Abbott, the opponent of Julia Gillard, our current Prime Minister, was claiming in his four key points that he would stop the boats (of refugees). When you like at the real size of the problem, it is more sensible to believe that he was targetting an Australian fear : over-population. For a country as big as Europe with nearly 22 million people, many consider that Australia cannot have more. And the idea to reach 35 or 40 million people, as Kevin Rudd (the previous Prime Minister and current Minister of Foreign Affairs) was supporting, seems to be a conflictual concept, because some say we need a big Australia to keep the economy going and some other say, there isn’t enough resources for everyone. I dont know if this concept of “too many” is due to the fact that Australia is an island, because in France, we also do have immigration inlfux and issues, but I never heard “we are too many”... And we are three times more numerous for a country five time smaller... We talk about insecurity, unemployment and integration issue, but not of “too many”... Some people say island countries have some issues that countries with borders don’t have, maybe this is one of it : Fear of over-population
Source : http://www.courrierinternational.com/article/2010/12/16/le-bateau-de-la-honte
Source : http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/refugee-obligations-violated-20100412-s40l.html
Source : http://www.rethinkrefugees.com.au/the-facts/
Source : http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49da0e466.html
Source : http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/current/myths.html
Source : http://www.immi.gov.au/managing-australias-borders/detention/about/understanding.htm
Source : http://www.theage.com.au/national/christmas-island-toll-likely-to-hit-48-says-pm-20101220-192ks.html
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/01/25/2800329.htm