I don’t know how many of you keep up to date with news about refugees, but since my current position involves serving them, I like to. Even if they are not likely to end up where I am working, I find it’s good to keep up to date with the general state of things. But wow. There are so many refugees, so many war torn areas, so many people needlessly and disgustingly cruel…it can get you down. So, I try not to read more than a couple in a day, or they tend to send me spiraling into a depression and one day I almost cried at work reading about some poor refugee women going through the most inhumane treatment.
But oddly enough, after starting to follow news about refugees, I was surprised about the fourth most common country to be the subject in these articles: Australia. And this week they’ve topped the cake. Well, not Australia as a whole, of course. One man that appears to have more power than he should.
The man making a name for himself behind these decisions and comments is a member of the Australian House of Representatives and a member of the Liberal Party, and currently serving as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. He first caught my attention when he was under fire for harsh treatment of refugees, putting them in camps that were likened to prisons. He defended it, as I understood it, essentially saying that the long detention times and difficult living situation discouraged those fleeing by boats, many of which aren’t seaworthy and results in many deaths. Read more here.
I didn’t agree with him for the most part, but I could see his side too. Issues like that are rarely black or white, and I think everyone would agree we don’t want people fleeing on boats that will most likely result in deaths. But, I don’t think his solution is the right way to go. I don’t think he’s thought about it from a refugee’s point of view. No one wants to enter a rickety boat on the ocean. Do you think they don’t know their chances of surviving are not the highest?
Obviously, that says something about how badly they are being persecuted. If you had certain death, torture, or rape behind you and an open sea in front of you, which would you choose? Thank God that is a choice that most people reading this blog will never have to make.
After living a life in constant fear, one more year in a prison-like setting? I don’t think that’s going to be a huge deterrent if you’re already to that point of desperation.
So, what happened recently that pushed that debate to the background? This. How did this even happen. What on earth are they doing resettling people in Cambodia! I think most of you are probably at least familiar enough with history to know that Cambodia isn’t really known for its outstanding human rights history. As the article states, 20% of Cambodia is already in poverty, and it is well-known that human trafficking and child exploitation is a big issue there. And they want to send refugees, who are supposed to be given a new chance at life, there?
I don’t know any other words for it, other than appalling.
They even claimed that UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) would help them, while the UNHCR said they were not consulted at all, and are afraid at the precedent this might set. Human Rights organizations on both sides are afraid of the impacts this will have.
I just don’t understand how this could ever happen. When people have no choice and flee to a developing country – that is one thing. But to resettle people in a situation that can only end badly for them as well as the country they’re resettling to – that’s only going to breed racism, hate, poverty, and tragedy.
Here’s hoping that it never actually becomes reality.
It never should have been a possibility in the first place.