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July 17, 2012


by refugeeactioncoalitionsydney

Refugee groups have rejected the Immigration Minister’s assertion that refugee boat arrivals take the places of refugees in camps as a convenient untruth.

“The Minister is responsible for setting the number of refugees taken from camps each year. It has been 6000 for many years. That number could, and should, be increased.

“It is not boat people depriving others in refugee camps; it is the Minister,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson from the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The Howard government deliberately linked the number of boat arrivals to the special humanitarian program to try and turn refugee and migrant communities against boat arrivals. This cruel measure should have been dropped by Labor when it was elected in 2007, but shamefully it was kept in place.

“No other country in the world links its onshore and offshore refugee programs in this way. Just as Howard’s use of temporary protection visas pushed family members onto boats, and led to the sinking of the SIEV X, Chris Bowen’s use of this policy is pushing families onto boats.

“Not surprisingly, Opposition Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says nothing about maintaining the Howard policy. But Chris Bowen is now using the Howard government’s policy to turn community opinion against boat arrivals.

“Even more dangerously, because refugees’ family members are artificially excluded from the humanitarian program, there is no alternative for them but to get boats. Just as Howard’s use of temporary protection visas led to the refugees’ families drowning on the SIEV X, Chris Bowen policies are pushing refugees’ relatives to get on to boats. Chris Bowen is creating a ‘SIEV X’ affect.

“If the Minister was really concerned about the safety of asylum seekers, he would de-link the off-shore refugee program from the special humanitarian program. If he was really concerned about refugees in camps in Africa, he would increase the pitifully small quota of 6000.

“But hypocrisy rules the day. Truth is also a casualty in the war against refugees. Chris Bowen is more interested in abusing the rights of asylum seekers and promoting off-shore processing and the Malaysia Agreement.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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