A possie in Aussie

May 8, 2009

Cairns skipper: Open hearts to refugees

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people — Nayano @ 8:32 am
Tags: , ,

And even more on desperate asylum seekers:

Open hearts to refugees from the Cairns Post of Thursday, May 7, 2009:

A CAIRNS skipper is urging people to think twice before condemning asylum seekers, after a first-hand encounter with an unseaworthy vessel carrying nearly 60 Afghanis.

The plea comes as Australian authorities on Monday intercepted the eleventh boat this year.

Paul Smith, the skipper of The Lady Sandra, an offshore oil rig support ship working off the Broome coast in Western Australia, came to the rescue of an overloaded boat on April 25.

He said the encounter had changed his view about asylum seekers after seeing the “sheer desperation” and “personal risks taken” by those on board.

“Regardless of personal feelings on how refugee boats and their unfortunate and desperate human cargo should be treated, the plight of 56 persons onboard a small and unseaworthy vessel cannot be ignored,” he said.

“The crew of The Lady Sandra were quick to respond and offer assistance as soon as possible. All crew onboard were touched by this experience and were moved by the plight of these people who could be so desperate to set sail with so very little.

“These people did not have suitcases or bags and their worldly possessions were what they were wearing.”

Mr Smith said the cramped boat had no toilets or safety equipment, little food and water, inadequate navigation equipment and was 120 miles off course but had no communication facilities.

He said it had nearly run out of fuel and it was leaking badly.

“Their desperate situation is a tragedy and before we condemn the refuge problem on our northern shores, we need to fully understand the plight of these people,” he said.

“Once we saw people in that situation, it really makes you think differently.

“I’m sure there are some crooks trying to get into Australia but most would be genuine people seeking freedom.

“We need to try and understand these people and not condemn them.”

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