Australia has a history of turning refugees away and had faced a lot of criticism for its policies. Refugees in Australia might suffer through a troubling system. Here are ten facts about refugees in Australia:
- In 2015, only 0.48 percent of the world’s refugees were protected in Australia.
- In 2015-2016, Australia accepted 13,750 people through humanitarian programs.
- In 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard tried to get an agreement from nations involved in the Syrian War to stop people from arriving. The government would even turn away boats filled with refugees.
- Australia’s government introduced a policy in 2013 called the Operation Sovereign Borders. When refugees travel by boat to the country, they stop at the Pacific Islands in Papua New Guinea. Refugees are being held in detention facilities on the islands of Nauru and Manus. These refugees in Australia from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq are named asylum seekers.
- The facilities in Papua New Guinea have been reported to have inhumane conditions and staff who abuse people and treat them like prisoners. In the Nauru center, people are housed in vinyl tents that are extremely hot and at risk of flooding. There have even been suicide attempts and reports of self-harm among the children.
- In 2016, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that the detention facilities were unconstitutional after the refugees in Australia had been in illegal detention for a year.
- There are organizations trying to look out for the refugees in Australia such as the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The Australian Human Rights omission (AHRC), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Senate Select Committee called on the Australian government to change the rules on the facilities in Nauru when the authorities became aware of the abusive treatment.
- In November 2016, after months of negotiation, President Obama signed a deal with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the U.S. to accept 1,200 refugees from Papua New Guinea’s islands detention centers. The process would take six months to a year to complete the transfer of the refugees in Australia.
- At first, President Trump confirmed that his administration would allow refugees in Australia to settle in the United States according to the Australian prime minister despite Trump’s recent Muslim Ban.
- After a phone call with the Australian prime minister, it seems Trump might be changing his mind about the deal. He said he would not allow another “Boston Bomber.” However, the refugees have been proven to not be illegal immigrants.
After Trump’s immigration ban, it is unknown what will happen to some of the refugees in Australia and the detention centers. But hopefully, the humanitarian programs will find a way to help these people who are not terrorists, but simply people trying to escape a war.
– Emma Majewski