Refugee protection – B’nai B’rith has its say

October 29, 2014 by  
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B’nai B’rith Australia / NZ is deeply disturbed by the deterioration in the level of commitment of the Australian Government to protection of refugees and asylum seekers.

B’nai B’rith Australia/NZ has issued the following statement.

B'nai-B'rith-NationalThe world is now experiencing the highest number of displaced people since World War II with 50 million people displaced by persecution and conflict. This number includes 10 million Syrians displaced internally and in neighbouring countries. Yet the Australian government has taken no action to replace the 6,000 places per year it cut from its offshore refugee program through which UNHCR refers refugees for resettlement. While the Australian Government recently dedicated 4,400 places to vulnerable people from Syria and Iraq, these are not additional places – they come out of the 11,000 places per year now allocated to the offshore program.

A joint statement on refugee protection tabled at the 2014 UNHCR Executive Committee meeting in Geneva in early October this year was openly critical of the Australian government’s policies relating to people seeking its protection:

Thousands of asylum seekers, including children, remain in arbitrary, indefinite detention in Australia and in offshore detention centres under conditions that constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The deaths of two asylum seekers held at the Manus Island detention centre this year – one beaten to death, one succumbing to a treatable illness – have unequivocally demonstrated the risks of sending asylum seekers to countries which are not equipped to provide protection and support to people fleeing persecution.

B’nai B’rith is deeply concerned at the lack of compassion and increasingly extreme measures used by the Government to block access to protection, including screening asylum seekers at sea, turning back boats to Indonesia, forcibly returning asylum seekers to Sri Lanka and the withdrawal of funding for projects which provided basic protection needs (health, education) in countries where those fleeing persecution seek asylum.

On 27th September, Australia signed a deal to transfer refugees to Cambodia, a country that faces major challenges in protecting the rights of its own citizens. The costs and conditions of this arrangement are undisclosed and hidden from public view. B’nai B’rith considers that the construction of this agreement demonstrates that Australia is shifting its protection responsibilities to other countries with insufficient capacity to provide support to refugees

B’nai B’rith believes that Australia needs to re-think how to live up its international protection commitments and to use aid funds for refugees in a way that is transparent and accountable to the people of Australia. Increasing the numbers of offshore refugee places in Australia, releasing information to the people of Australia on terms and conditions of agreements with neighbouring countries, and supporting countries of first asylum to process asylum claims and protect asylum seekers would be a start.

Comments

2 Responses to “Refugee protection – B’nai B’rith has its say”
  1. Michael Burd says:

    Hey Dvir,

    Perhaps we should encourage more illegal boat people from such Jew friendly tolerant places like Palestinian Terror- tories, Syria, Iraq,Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan , Somalia .

    Dvir may I suggest instead of giving these people tax payer handouts the Jewish community could employ some of these asylum seekers as security Guards at our Synagogues, Community Centres, Day schools { including the Bondi school that has recently erected a bomb prof security barrier around the perimeter ] >

  2. Scott Leonard says:

    Hear,hear!

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