Five years too long: Background information

Fifth Anniversary of the Resettlement Ban and Reopening of offshore detention centres
Evacuate Now – Bring the Refugees to Safety

Background Information

The Rudd announcement, made under the pressure of an impending election (which he was generally expected to lose), added a new turn of the screw to the Howard-era “Pacific Solution” policies.
Successive governments under Tony Abbott and Malclom Turnbull, have not only continued this policy, but have increased the harshness of conditions in the island camps in order to pressure people to return to unsafe situations in their homelands.

Five years on, over 939 refugees and asylum seekers, including 137 children, still languish on Nauru, and almost 700 men are marooned on Manus Island with no clear path to safe resettlement. These people have been processed and most are recognised as bona fide refugees. As PM Turnbull admitted to President Trump, “the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people who come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in.”

Because of the political deadlock created by Rudd’s announcement and sustained by the Abbott and Turnbull Governments, in the past five years 11 refugees have died in detention, victims of despair, inadequate medical attention and the insecurity of their environment.

The costs of the offshore “solution” approaches $5bn. This excludes the $70m, plus costs, paid to settle a class action brought by detainees. Furthermore, Australia’s reputation as a nation that respects human rights continues to suffer.

Under the original “Pacific Solution” between 2001 and 2008, it was eventually possible to resettle 1,153 refugees from Manus Island and Nauru. Of these, 35% went to New Zealand 5% to other developed countries and 70% were eventually resettled in Australia.

Today, with access to Australia and New Zealand ruled out, the only developed country option is an uncertain deal made with the Obama administration in 2016. President Trump has so far resettled just 268 people in the US, with another 97 also accepted to go. But America will never take all of those needing resettlement even if its quota of 1250 is met in full. Their ban on refugees from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Syria means there are hundreds on Nauru and Manus who are barred from the US. Other northern hemisphere countries are coping with refugee flows far greater than those in our region and cannot be expected to help us. This leaves only PNG and Cambodia as officially sanctioned destinations, neither of which can provide the safe and supportive environment necessary for successful resettlement.

Additional Information here:
June 2018
Nov 2017
August 2017
August 2016

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