A possie in Aussie

April 15, 2009

How to choose a refugee

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,refugee — Nayano @ 9:11 am
Tags: ,

I was confronted by some information in an article written by Owen and Taylor in The Australian this week: Criminal networks behind perilous journey to asylum. And it wasn’t anti-asylum seeker bias that I have come to expect from our national newspaper, but rather a sympathetic ‘opinion’ piece – which, by the way is the section of papers where nearly all of the few positive stories about asylum seekers appeared at the height of the ‘floods’ of 1999-2002.

The reporters describe the “desperate, dangerous and expensive journey from the Third World to a new life” of an Afghan man, fleeing the turmoil in Afghanistan. The man and his daughter are now being held on Christmas Island.

The man was in fact returning to Australia. He had been granted a protection visa in 2000 after spending a year in detention, but voluntarily returned to Afghanistan in 2003 when his brother and sister died.

The article quoted the man as saying that he knew he had to try for the “paradise” of Australia yet again.

I believe that Afghanistan is an extremely dangerous place. I also believe that people with the guts and gumption to make the journey here are the sort of people who would be great to have as Australian citizens.

But for me the story raised the appalling question of how to limit the numbers of people who want to migrate, in whatever manner, to Australia, because however wide the limits are, limit we must.

I hate to contemplate this question, because I know that I am arguing it from a position of privilege. I am a citizen in this “paradise” while billions who cannot come in suffer and die.

Because there are billions suffering and dying, and we must choose, how do we view someone who has come here, been granted protection, and then seeks protection once more as a refugee?

I am not sure what to think about this, and I would love to hear what you think in the ‘comments’.

Have a look at these posts on asylum, choosing refugees and people smugglers: Death, poetry and linguistics and People smugglers, or transport for the desperate?

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