CategoryRefugee Ethics

A Prayer for Syria and Syrian Refugees

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Civil war broke out in Syria in 2011 after the Assad regime resisted the regional movement towards democracy known as “the Arab Spring”. Initially a war between the government and a rebel movement, the rise of ISIS has added a third major party to the conflict. The situation is made more complex by the presence of outside interests, with Russia supporting the Syrian government, the United...

Three questions for the Prime Minister

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Dear Prime Minister, I followed with some interest the speeches on Australia’s approach to the refugee crisis that you gave this week in New York. Given you have commended Australia’s approach to the rest of the world, I have a few questions I would like to ask. 1. If every country adopted Australia’s approach, where would refugees go? Australia’s approach is built on the...

Moral cowardice, moral courage and 1296 human beings in offshore detention

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A few years ago I went to a workshop where we were invited to participate in a guided imagination exercise in which we imagined ourselves inside a bubble floating through time seeing what our lives would be like in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. I engaged in that exercise this week, not imagining my own life in 5, 10, 20 years but imagining what life would be like for the 1296 people held in...

What’s happening with the Syrian refugees Australia agreed to take?

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In September last year the federal government committed to taking a once off tranche of 12,000 refugees from Syria in addition to the 13,750 people who would be granted humanitarian visas each year. So what’s been happening? I wrote to the Department and they replied informing me that the government had set itself a timeframe of delivering all 12,000 places within two years (which I assume...

How do the parties compare? Asylum seeker and refugee policy

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The world faces a refugee crisis. 20 million people are refugees and another 2 million are seeking asylum. There are three possible solutions for those who are refugees: that they returned home when it becomes safe to do so; that they settle down and build a new life in the country to which they first fled; that they resettle in a third country such as Australia. At present less than 2% are able...

Stopping the Boats Has Not Stopped the Deaths. Where’s the evidence?

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In a number of posts on this site I have made the claim that stopping the boats has not stopped the deaths at sea. But is there a sound basis for claiming this? I believe there is. 1. Stopping the boats has not reduced the demand for protection At present there are 20 million refugees in the world and 2 million asylum seekers. Having fled their homelands they commonly live in great uncertainty...

Breathtaking mountains and despairing beyonds. On becoming human

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The view is spectacular. Mountains and valleys that extend seemingly without end. The blue haze that gives the mountains their name. Sunlight striking a cliff-face. The rich green foliage of densely packed Australian bush. The vibrant red flower of a Waratah that has bloomed early. The song of birds in the air. It is incredibly beautiful. It inspires awe and wonder. I feel satisfied and at peace...

The dog whistling has begun and it is ugly

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So the dog whistling has begun. The Guardian reported both Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton claiming that we must keep asylum seekers out of Australia as a matter of national security. That they both use the same language makes it clear that this is a calculated line that they are spinning in the lead up to the next election...

A nauseating contrast. Or why it pains me to read the Daily Telegraph

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What a nauseous and stunning contrast! Earlier this week both the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian Australia ran articles on the 30,000 asylum seekers living in Australia on bridging visas. These are people who are deemed to have arrived in Australia “unlawfully”, that is by a boat without any travel approvals, and arrived prior to the date from which boat arrivals started being sent...

Let them stay is only half the ask

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Many Australians have been disturbed by the apparent intention of the Government to return refugees, including babies born in Australia, to detention on Nauru. They are, quite rightly I believe, asking for the Government to let them stay. But this is only half the ask we need to make. Offshore detention without the possibility of settling in Australia is a central plank of an effort to deter...