A story published in today’s Australian caught my eye. The story was titled – “I don’t care if I drown: asylum-seeker” and the story was about three young men of Pakistani origin whose sole aim is to get the money so they can catch a boat from Indonesia and make it to either Christmas Island or Ashmore Reef, get an Australian visa and bring their families over to Australia.
Hazaras Rohallah Gharibyar, left, Aman Karimi and Zakir Faiyazi, in Jakarta yesterday, hope to find a boat to Australia. Picture: Peter Alford Source: The Australian
Meanwhile, thousands of kilometres away in South Africa, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean refugees are living in disgraceful conditions.
Unlike our three Pakistani men who are in their designer jeans and t-shirts, look at 16 year old Williad Fire who arrived at the Musina camp with eight friends. His parents are dead. Williad and his friends share a single blanket. Cans and buckets fetched from the trash are used as pots.
Unlike Williad - Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi don’t look too impoverished living in Indonesia. Unlike the refugee camps dotted along the South African/Zimbabwe border, Indonesia is practically a paradise. I’m sure Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi get a cot and three hots a day – unlike Williad.
This is the issue. Genuine refugees like Williad are being pushed out of the “queue” thanks to economic “refugees” like Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi.
You see, Williad who is a genuine refugee, fears for his life in his home country of Zimbabwe and has found refuge in the nearest country, South Africa.
Why then do we class people like Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi as refugees who have travelled halfway around the world, and who have often stopped off at one or more other countries on the way?
The fact that Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi want to come to Australia, clearly demonstrates that their purpose of travel is to get to Australia, not to escape from their home country.
A good start would be taking in some genuine refugees like Williad and his friends, not a bunch of young men who look like they’re on holiday in Indonesia.
Apart from the fact that most Australians strongly resent our borders being breached at will, there are several aspects that concern many people, such as the cost of providing social security and other benefits to people who have arrived here illegally and those few who often refuse to accept our laws and customs.
When a sovereign nation cannot enforce control of its own borders due to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, it’s time to withdraw from that convention. We are after all, a sovereign nation and not a colony of the UN. We are free to make our own polices and decide who and how many people come here.
While we’re at it, we also need to remove the lure of family reunion. If people like Gharibyar, Karimi and Faiyazi know that if they come by boat then they will be deemed illegible for any family reunion. That's one less pull factor.
It’s tough love I know, but for everyone we let in like Gharibyar, someone like Williad misses out and that was never the intention of the 1951 UN refugee Convention.
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