A possie in Aussie

October 1, 2009

Vitamin tablets: the new test for refugee claims?

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 11:49 am
Tags: , , ,

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce claims that a ‘large proportion’ of the boat people now on Christmas Island are economic migrants, not refugees facing persecution. Boat people bluffing us, says Joyce

Senator Joyce made this assessment after viewing people on detention on Christmas Island, and judging them to be ‘very happy’.

He also viewed vitamin tablets which some of the people had brought with them, and claimed that this also means that they are not refugees.

The Immigration Department, however, after doing background checks and interviews, has granted 641 people permanent protection visas, and so far 21 had been repatriated voluntarily.

What is the difference between economic migrants – people moving to seek a better standard of living – and refugees? The Refugee Council of Australia says:

“Migrants make a conscious choice to come to Australia. They are able to read about the country and learn about it from friends and families. They have time to study the language and explore employment opportunities before they make a final decision about whether to come.

One of the most significant differences is that migrants are able to pack their precious belongings and say good-bye to the important people in their lives.

Another very important distinction is that migrants can go home at any time if things do not work out as they had hoped or if they get homesick. They can also pick up a phone and talk to friends and relatives. Most refugees cannot.

Because refugees and migrants are different groups of people, with different prearrival experiences, it is important that the distinction be made in the services provided. Refugees have needs distinct from and additional to migrants, in particular in relation to torture and trauma counselling, secure housing and medical care.”

Ruud Lubbers, the immediate past UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that it is important to keep the two groups of people – refugees and migrants – clearly distinct, because as they are increasingly confused, they are

“increasingly being treated in the same way: with mistrust, even hatred and outright rejection. The impressive body of international law designed to protect refugees is under intense pressure”. Refugees and migrants: Defining the difference


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