A possie in Aussie

October 28, 2009

‘Indonesian solution’ for asylum seekers should be ‘Pakistan solution’

Andrew Bartlett notes that we are on the cusp of changes in asylum policy in Australia and regionally. Future asylum policies in the balance

He reminds us that the ‘accommodation’ for many asylum seekers in Indonesia ranges from adequate to appalling.

“The Australian government, having gone on at length about the increasing cooperation with the Indonesian government, cannot now simply sidestep their responsibilities by saying the conditions are the responsibility of the UNHCR and IOM”.

I absolutely agree.

But the asylum seeker question will not be answered by improving conditions in Indonesia, or any other of Australia’s ‘Fortress Pacific’ neighbours. Asylum seeker crowd control: Australia and Europe hire 3rd world bouncers

If conditions in countries like Indonesia are improved then those nations may become magnets in themselves, and they will be forced to take increasingly severe deterrent measures.

There are suggestions that more aid to source nations would reduce refugee and asylum seeker flows, but there is no guarantee that this would reduce the numbers of people leaving to seek a better life, and indeed improvement in conditions is associated with increases in emigration, at least initially.

Economic assistance has reduced flows only when the sending country has the means to stop the flows by preventing refugees from leaving, as in the case of Haiti. The major sending nations of Afghanistan and most African nations are not able to do so, however.

And preventing people from fleeing persecution is a gross violation of human rights.

The bulk of the world’s refugees exist in developing countries without adequate financial resources for their care and maintenance. Perhaps we should instead invest in those nations who have always borne the brunt of flight: neighbours of the major source nations, like Pakistan and Kenya.

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