I’m sitting here in my chair, after just reading a news article entitled Tony Abbott says Australia will accept more Syria refugees but within current intake...
The news this week has been full of images and stories about the enormous humanitarian crisis involving refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East – primarily Syria. The stories have been fuelled by the images of little Aylan Kurdi, so tragically drowned when his boat sank.
The humanitarian crisis isn’t new, but the images of that one child seem to have galvanised many countries to action, and have struck deep into the hearts of many who may have been distanced from the realities and horrors faced by many asylum seekers.
As I read the headline, and the story that I quoted above, I felt ill, and ashamed. I live in a wonderful, wealthy country, that has somehow turned its back on the poor, the desperate, and the vulnerable, and instead places them in detention for years, ships them offshore to hideous living conditions, and then attempts to justify it by suggesting that lives have been saved.
The article states: This afternoon the Prime Minister told a press conference he was moved by the images of Aylan, and was prepared to lift the percentage of refugees Australia takes from Syria.
But he said the increase will not mean Australia’s overall yearly intake of refugees, which stands at 13,750, will go up.
Clearly the PM wasn’t moved very much, despite what he said, as the death of a young man on Manus Island last year certainly didn’t spur him to action, and more recently neither did the fate of the young asylum seeker who was moved from Brisbane to Darwin detention centre not long before she was due to finish her year twelve schooling.
To say I’m disgusted is an understatement. To say I’m frustrated is also an understatement. Another article quotes the PM saying “We can only do this because of the success we’ve already had in stopping the boats.” At this point I just want to scream. We have a paltry intake of refugees, we’ve reduced our foreign aid budget, and now the government is attempting to roll popular opinion by pretending to be generous, simply because the tide of public opinion seems to be gathering momentum.
Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to the next federal election. I’m hoping more of my fellow Australians will also be voting with an eye to compassion and integrity.