It’s not smugglers: it’s government policies that are pushing families onto boats

| May 8, 2013 | Reply

The Refugee Action Coalition has rejected claims that people smugglers are responsible for more asylum families arriving in Australia by boat.

“It is the government not smugglers that are pushing families onto asylum boats,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. “Unless the government reverses the so-called ‘no advantage’ rule and allows family reunion, many more families will have no alternative to get onto boats.

“The so-called ‘no advantage’ principle means that thousands of asylum seekers have been left in limbo without any processing of their claims. The direct result of ‘no advantage’ is that the families of these asylum seekers are also left in often dangerous circumstances with no hope of being re-united with husbands and fathers for years, if at all.

“In some instances it is the initiative of the wives themselves to opt to take a boat as their circumstances deteriorate and they are denied any possibility of family reunion.

“The second reason is the adoption of the Expert Panel’s recommendation to discriminate against refugees having access to family reunion through the Special Humanitarian Program. Refugees’ family reunion applications are now pushed to the bottom of the pile.”

One Rohingya refugee living in Australia for two years whose wife and two children were stranded in Malaysia was told by the Australian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, after months of waiting for a response, that his family reunion application was “closed”. By that time he had been separated from his wife and family for ten years. Legal representation forced the embassy to re-open the application but the refugee was told the application would take at least seven years to process.

“Not surprisingly, the woman and the two children arrived by boat several weeks ago,” said Rintoul.

“The government was warned months ago that the consequences of their policies would be exactly the same as those produced by the Howard government’s introduction of temporary protection visas – hundreds and potentially thousands of families will have to get on boats. Dumping families in the community is no disincentive to get on a boat – if the alternative is indefinite separation.

“The ‘no advantage’ rule must be scrapped. Refugees need the right to family reunion. And families and all asylum seekers must have proper resources, must be allowed to work and must be processed.”

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul mob 0417 275 713

Category: Press releases

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