A possie in Aussie

January 27, 2010

Richard Branson does not learn the truth about refugees

Besides such criticisms of the Run as “insensitive,” “dehumanizing,” or “disrespectful” (not to mention “ludicrous”) And Now For Something Completely Different: Davos Features “Refugee Run”, the Refugee Run at the Davos World Economic Forum also perpetuated myths about refugees.

Anyway…

Have a look at Richard Branson experiencing the  Run (below).

In the ‘Run’ the participants face an attack from rebels, a ‘mine field’, border corruption, language incapacity, black-marketeering and refugee camp survival. his video is of

It looks like it was a worthwhile experience – except that it reinforced a tragic misconception about refugees today.

Displaced people are increasingly likely to be in urban areas rather than camps, now referred to as ‘urban refugees’. That is, there are millions who are not ‘refugees’ recognised by the Refugee Convention, but who are living lives on the run wherever they can.

In addition, undocumented migrants from poorer nations often use the same trafficking channels as asylum seekers, and resort to claiming asylum in countries of the Global North the hope of being permitted to stay.

In the past, displaced people living in camps or settlements were considered to be prima facie refugees, and this conceptualisation still drives much public and policy discourse. The public is confused by the mixture of refugees and other migrants, and this contributes to xenophobia.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Refugee Run At World Economic Forum“, posted with vodpod
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January 25, 2010

Australians spooked by immigrants, but not by ‘illegals’, Dr Birrell

Our local Sunday tabloid, the Sunday Mail, put ‘Australians are spooked by record high immigration’, reporting on a poll by Galaxy Poll shows Aussies want immigration capped. Sixty-six per cent said that the Federal Government should cap immigration rates. Bob Birrell, an academic who is often called to comment on demographic and migration matters, said the figures show “the tide is turning”.

It may well be. Australia has had unprecedented rates of immigration over the last few years, mostly in the skilled worker and business categories.

The last time that numbers indicating that immigration numbers had gone too far was in 1993 at 67%, up from 56% the year before and dropping progressively to less than 30% in 2004. 1993 was near the last year of resettlement of around 130,000 Vietnamese refugees in Australia under the UNHCR Comprehensive Plan of Action, and soon after the end of the program that accepted nearly 20,000 Chinese as refugees as a result of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Dr Birrell said the economic shock of the global financial crisis, increasing house prices and continuing controversy over illegal immigration would have played a part in changing opinions. (I assume that professor Birrell means ‘undocumented arrivals’ or ‘asylum seekers’ – and surely knows that the term ‘illegal immigrants’ is not only incorrect, but inflammatory to boot).

The figures showing dissatisfaction with immigration don’t support the idea that the public has been ‘spooked’ by ‘illegal immigration’, however.

The numbers expressing concern for rate of immigration dropped from 41% to 33% from 1998 to 2001, while conversely the numbers of arrivals of asylum seekers by boat actually peaked over that period, as they have again peaked over the last 12 months.

It may be that poll respondents believe that increasing numbers of immigrants have caused them financial distress, but another item by David Uren, economics correspondent for the Australian reports that the arrival of almost 300,000 migrants and temporary workers last year

“was one of the biggest contributors to Australia’s superior economic performance during the global recession. Their spending delivered a stimulus at least as big as the government’s first cash splash, and the flexibility of a temporary migrant labour force that now holds about 7.5 per cent of all jobs helped the economy to ride out the downturn with a relatively little rise in unemployment.” Migrant spending a great stimulus to economy during crisis

Here is comment on the Sunday Mail story that made me laugh:

“I’m more worried about Australia being swamped by drop-kick bogans than immigrants”


January 22, 2010

What are your earliest memories of people from other countries, or other ethnicities?

Filed under: Integration,migration,race relations — Nayano @ 3:20 pm
Tags: , ,

What is your earliest memory of meeting someone from another country or of a different ethnicity?

I was intrigued lately by a couple of posts on Larvatus Prodeo.

The first one that got me going was ‘What are your earliest political memories? People responded and talked about knowing the names of Prime Ministers and that they were ‘bad’ or ‘good’, of hearing of the death of famous political figures, of the ‘Dismissal’ (the event, not the mini-series!)

This was followed a few days later by ‘What are your earliest Computer memories?’

That got me thinking about my earliest memories of people from other countries.

I remember my best friend in school who was Greek, and discovering olive oil and garlic and all sorts of delicious things at her house – and also discovering the institution of arranged marriage from her mother, who told me that husbands and wives simply learned to love each other in these situations. I also learnt that if a house had its front garden cemented over, there were Greek living there.

I remember the twin girls who wore long blonde plaits and some sort of clothes like German dirndls, who turned up in grade one.

I remember people calling Italians ‘Ities’ quite un-self-consciously – and of course we knew ‘wogs’ and ‘wops’ but were not so casual about those words – until the fabulous Wogs Out of Work loosened us all up.

I remember the boy from Malaysia who came to live in our house and go to high school, with me when we were both in our early teens, and discovering  the magic of prawn crackers cooked from those strange plastic looking chips. (His parents sent him care parcels – there was no-where to buy Chinese ingredients in Adelaide in those days).

My memories are quite cosy – and certainly benign.

Perhaps yours are too – or not? My friend told me that his memories of growing up in Singapore were of discrimination and insults because of his dark skin.

Please share your memories in the comments!

January 20, 2010

Soon we will be fighting for immigrants – any immigrants

The new documentary movie The Demographic Winter (narrated in that ‘prophetic/lone voice of reason’, as one commenter says), explores the coming downfall of humanity caused because we are not reproducing sufficiently to  sustain our economies.

The movie implies that anyone who is not having children is not doing their duty.

Sociological Images, a great blog on Context.org, featured this movie, and pointed out how it is anti-gay, anti any sex outside marriage. It is, indeed, suspected of being propaganda for the Christian Right.

This is, however, a real and important issue. Its effects will overcome the barriers, both actual and ideological, against immigration of the marginalised from the Global South, because within the next few decades all economically-developed countries will be desperate for workers, from anywhere, of any colour and of any skill level. The recent sharp increases in skilled migration to Australia are just the beginning.

Sociological Images, and people who comment on the blog, usually give insightful reports, but this time paid little attention to what I see as the real issue here. Why assume that growth must continue?

Yes, the current wealthy lifestyles of the Global North are dependent on growth. And that means growth in numbers of people. But the world is already over-crowded and dying of the stress.

November 29, 2009

Something you don’t want to do? Get a marginalised migrant

Filed under: humor,humour,Immigrant workers — Nayano @ 7:43 am
Tags: , , ,

Happy Sunday Funday!
What would we do without marginalised migrants to do our dirty work?

(From KnoxNews.com)

November 22, 2009

The immigrant journey: a funny music video

Filed under: humor,migration — Nayano @ 7:51 am
Tags: , ,

Finding something funny about migration/refugees/racism is not easy, let alone doing it once a week.

But it is Sunday Funday once more, and so the Possie has searched and searched, and found this music video of the immigration journey of two Mexican migrants in the US.

You may guess from my tone that it is not the best video we have seen – but pretty good.

Until the last minute which gets a bit dumb.

Watch until then – and enjoy!

November 19, 2009

Do you know someone experiencing visa difficulties right now?

Filed under: Foreign Students,migration,PR,visas — Nayano @ 12:15 pm
Tags: , ,

I am at the International Conference on Migration, Citizenship and Intercultural Relations in Melbourne at the moment.

Just heard a great lecture from Stephen Castles – much to think about! Castles predicts that by 2050 the birth rate will have decreased in the Global South to the level of that now in the Global North.

Castles asked the audience a  question I have heard asked once or twice before – but it is still a good one: ‘raise  your hand if you were born in Australia’.

Answer for this audience – about one quarter.

My mind wandered (as it usually does, even in a lecture as good as Castles’) and I thought of a question I would like to ask Australian audiences:

‘How many of you have a friend or relative experiencing visa difficulties right now?’

My answer: 2 close relatives, one very close friend, and many other friends.

How about you?

November 18, 2009

Can you help? I am all at sea about Tamils

Will someone please help me with this?

What is going on with Tamils on boats?

Dr Kohona claims that they are just economic migrants, and could go just 22 miles across the water to Tamil Nadu in India instead, but would not make enough money there. Tamils could volunteer as sitting ducks for the Sri Lankan navy: Dr Kohona

Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, says that Dr Kohona is deluded, And that they can’t get to India because the Sri Lankan navy would short them out of the water. Tamil refugee boats sunk by Sri Lankan navy

Michael Roberts, a dual nationality Australian/Lankan Adjunct associate professor of anthropology at the University of Adelaide says that some Australians have displayed incredulous gullibility about this issue, and that the camps where Tamils are in Sri Lanka are only surrounded by ‘one strand of barbed wire’, have shops and banks and complete medical services, and people are being moved out of them rapidly. Crude Reasoning

David Feith says that “All international media and non-governmental organisations have been locked out of the camps” and that the camps were marked by a “shortage of food and medical facilities.” Tamils’ horrific treatment makes them desperate to leave

Dr Kohona said that 54 NGOs had access to these camps U.N. Ambassador Kohona: Sri Lanka Refugee Situation Improving.

In a media release yesterday Minister Chris Evans said that 119 asylum seekers have been deported from Australia this year because they were not refugees.

“More than two thirds of a group of 50 Sri Lankans who arrived by boat in April have now been returned to Sri Lanka after they were determined not be refugees…

(The latest six) join 30 others from the same boat who returned to Sri Lanka voluntarily after their claims for protection were thoroughly assessed and it was found they had not raised any issues which might engage Australia’s obligations under the United Nations refugee convention.”

Seems to support the economic migrant theory.

But can someone explain why they did not set out in boats before the camps were filled? And why the risky journey to Australia, when it seems that in Tamil Nadu there are economic opportunities also?

I am plain confused.

November 9, 2009

Help change the debate – fund Amnesty’s asylum seeker ad

Filed under: asylum,asylum seeker,boat people,refugee — Nayano @ 4:59 pm
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I have talked a lot about changing the debate about asylum seekers, and now-

I’ve funded Amnesty International’s newspaper ad for a compassionate approach to refugees. Please join me: https://support.amnesty.org.au/index_content.php

Australians pride ourselves on being reasonable, compassionate and fair. But politicians are diminishing these values in political point-scoring over “boat people”.

We have the systems, skills and rigour to assess the people who come to our shores – whether by plane or by boat – with dignity, compassion and respect for fundamental human rights. What we lack is the political will.

Please help change the debate back towards real Australian values by chipping in $30 – or whatever you can afford – to put our ad in this week’s Daily Telegraph and West Australian.

November 7, 2009

How many would come if we just opened the borders?

Worried about asylum seekers flooding Australia?

What would happen if we just opened our borders to everyone?

Gallup polled people in 135 countries between 2007 and 2009, and found that about 16% of the world’s adults (roughly 700 million) would like to move to another country permanently if they could. 700 Million Worldwide Desire to Migrate Permanently

Nearly one-quarter said that the United States was their desired future residence. Forty-five million adults named the United Kingdom or France as their desired destination, 45 million would like to move to Canada, 35 million would like to go to Spain, 30 million to Saudi Arabia and 25 million would like to relocate to Germany. Twenty five  million named Australia.

If all adults actually moved to their desired destination country today, some countries would suffer tremendous losses and others would be overwhelmed.

Gallup’s Potential Net Migration Index (PNMI) is the estimated number who would like to move to a country, less the estimated number of adults who would like to move out of it, as a proportion of the total adult population.

The higher the resulting positive PNMI value, the larger the potential net population gain.

So there’s your answer – Australia’s population would suddenly increase by two and a half times.

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