Posted by: jkirkby8712 | June 30, 2011

Wednesday, 29 June 2011 – some figures on refugees

I realise that I do makes various contributions  on the case of Australia’s ‘refugee problem’, so when the following statistics were sent to me,  I felt the need to record these details for future reference, and just in case there is an interested reader.  Like we say ‘off air’ at the radio, if you don’t like what you are listening to, the solution is simple, switch off!! Same advice applies here.


On the 20 June 2011 it was recorded that the  UN REFUGEE FIGURES SHOW ASYLUM FEARS UNFOUNDED.

‘UN figures released today confirm that Australia’s share of asylum applications remains at just 1% of

the global total.

UNHCR Global Trends 2010, released today to mark World Refugee Day, reveals that the number of

people displaced by persecution and conflict rose by 400,000 last year to 43.7 million. Of these 15.4

million are refugees, 840,000 are asylum seekers and 27.5 million are displaced within their own


Of the 10.55 million refugees under UNHCR’s mandate, 75% come from just 10 countries of origin –

Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Colombia, Sudan, Vietnam,

Eritrea and China. Just 10 countries host 62% of these refugees. They include Pakistan, Iran, Syria,

Germany, Jordan, Kenya and Chad.

By contrast, Australia hosts 21,805 refugees according to UNHCR, just 0.21% of the global total. In

2010, Australia received 1.04% of the world’s asylum applications and, as at December 2010, hosted

0.45% of the world’s asylum seekers. Australia’s contribution to refugee resettlement is more

substantial, being ranked third in the world with 8,516 refugees welcomed last year.

Refugee Council of Australia CEO Paul Power said the statistics brought much-needed context and

realism to the shrill and unbalanced national debate about asylum seekers.

“Few people outside Australia can understand why there is so much political division in Australia about

asylum policy, given that Australia’s share of global need is so small,” Mr Power said. “These figures

reveal that Australians should ignore politicians and others who try to whip up fear about the nation

being ‘swamped’ by asylum seekers. While some Australians make so much fuss about a comparatively

small national challenge, much poorer countries across in the Middle East and Africa and the Middle

East put our country to shame by showing much greater generosity towards people attempting to

escape persecution and torture.

The actual tables of statistics  relating to the above followed, but I won’t burden readers with a set of charts and tables!! I think the point that is being made in all this, is summed up in the last sentence above. We don’t know how well off we are, in contrast with the ‘refugee’ problems faced in many other parts of the world!

Meanwhile, on the same subject, a few days later, another pro-refugee support organisation called ChilOut [whose primary aim, as the name might suggest, is to get all refugee children out of detention].

Last Thursday, ChilOut released our reportNo Place For Children: Detention on Christmas Island’ at Parliament House. The report was launched by Judi Moylan MP (Coalition) a long time supporter of ChilOut’s work, as well as ChilOut board members Dianne Hiles and Jo Hind. The report was written after Dianne Hiles and Jo Hind travelled to Christmas Island to investigate the conditions on the island for children.
The executive summary of the report states:
Australia’s mandatory detention regime has been found to be arbitrary. For all people who do not hold a valid visa, it is the first, not last, resort. This is its ultimate point of failure: the system is fundamentally flawed. While it imprisons children as a first resort and for indefinite periods of time, it contravenes international law and common sense morality. Children should not be locked up. Ultimately the government must recognise this and legislate to prevent the implementation of policies that breach Australia’s legal and moral obligations.
ChilOut visited Christmas Island in April 2011, and has grave concerns about a variety of risks that children in detention are exposed to there. If Australia is unable to keep children safe in off-shore facilities for which it is wholly responsible, what hope is there of human rights standards being maintained in facilities managed on our behalf in other countries? The immigration detention regime does not keep children safe and presents significant risks to their ongoing wellbeing.

I notice a comment was made today I think, by the Federal Immigration Minister expressing pride that the government had met it’s commitment to have all refugee children out of detention by the end of June  – well, not quite all of the children, apparently as an aside, he did mention that there were still 325 children to be moved from Christmas Island and other centres!!!  As ChilOut says ‘Unfortunately, not all children are being released by the 30 June deadline. We do not know what the Minister intends for the rest of the children in the long term . And without legislative change, there is always the chance that new children will end up back in detention’. Like the GETUP organisation, ChilOut is also seeking volunteers and financial support to help with their campaign.  One has to wonder at times what would happen to the many disadvantaged and sidelined groups in our society were it not for the work and efforts of these volunteer support organisations, which by their very nature have to depend themselves on the generosity and support of the broader community. So much of what they do – the question must be asked, why are not governments providing for these things?  A question that I don’t really have the answer to.



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