Eight years: that’s how long Australia’s government has been detaining some refugees and asylum seekers.
Ballina Region for Refugees [BRR]has highlighted the dubious anniversary this week by again calling on Northern Rivers’ locals to write to politicians demanding an end to detention for people who found to be genuine refugees.
The group has launched its ‘8 years too long’ campaign in partnership with the Australian Refugee Action Network (ARAN).
Australia’s legacy of suffering for aslyum-seekers
The anniversary marks the day former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa would never be settled in Australia.
BRR says more than 3,100 people seeking asylum in Australia have since been sent off-shore to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea or to the island state of Nauru.
There have been 14 deaths recorded in detention and what asylum seeker advocates describe as ‘immeasurable suffering’.
But where are these asylum seekers and refugees now?
BRR says Australian authorities have transferred 1,223 people to Australia for medical treatment, including 192 so-called ‘Medevac refugees’.
But the advocates say the asylum seekers are in limbo with no path to safe resettlement.
Another 125 aslyum seekers are reportedly still in PNG while 108 are still on Nauru and 942 have left for resettlement in United States, with another 240 having received provisional approval.
In total, the Refugee Council of Australia estimates that about 1200 of the 3,100 people subjected to offshore processing since 2013 are in limbo with no pathway to safe resettlement.
How to lobby the government for change to asylum-seeker policy
BRR is calling on the federal government to end off-shore asylum seeker arrangements with PNG and Nauru; bring remaining refugees to safety;provide safe resettlement options for all those still in limbo, including those already transferred here in Australia; and toaccept New Zealand’s resettlement offer.
The group has shared a link to an extensive resource kit for anyone wanting to take action: https://aran.net.au/actions/8-years-too-long/.