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February 13, 2011


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Media Release February 14, 2011

Refugee groups today condemned the callous handling of the victims and the survivors of the Christmas Island disaster.

“Instead of a show of compassion to the families of the victims of the disaster, the immigration department has created a fiasco,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC).

“It is unbelievable that the bodies the identified victims have been kept for so long, and that funeral arrangements have been made with no consultation with the families. The furtive way the department has gone about such sensitive arrangements is inflicting more unnecessary misery on the families.

“From reports it seems that Oday  and his brother, Madian El Ibrahimy who lost his wife and two children in the disaster, are not even going to be able to meet together, let alone be able to support each other at the funeral itself.

“The immigration department slogan is ‘People Our Business’ but it is a slogan that hides a bureaucratic machine unconcerned for the welfare of the asylum seekers under their control. The department has been deaf to the pleas of the survivors’ and the families of the victims.

“The circumstances of the funerals are bad enough, but it only serves to highlight the misery the department has inflicted on the survivors.”


“We are calling on the Minister to listen to the families and be sensitive to their concerns. Let Oday attend the funeral with his brother,” said Ian Rintoul.

“We are also calling on the Minister not to return the disaster survivors to the hell of Christmas Island. They should have been released in December. The Minister must release the survivors so they can live in the community while their claims are being processed. Some have family and relatives very willing to support them.

“But in every case, it is only by being released that the survivors can get the community support, and counseling they need. If they are to have any chance of getting over the trauma of the disaster, they must not be sent back to Christmas Island, the scene of the tragedy. Mandatory detention itself inflicts severe mental trauma on every asylum seeker and that is enough reason enough to release them all. But the anguish that the department is inflicting on the survivors of the Christmas Island disaster beggars belief.”

For more information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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