In 1999 the Refugee Action Coalition was established in Sydney Australia for those attempting to seek asylum there. According to their website they focus on grassroots organizing, distribution of information, educational forums and speakers, lobbying and organizing demonstrations, rallies and marches.
They are in strong opposition of mandatory detention and offshore processing of refugees and are campaigning for those refugees to be welcomed into Australia. RAC has no problem acting radically and express that they do not oppose confronting authorities directly where necessary.
The United Nations defines a refugee as someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. It is most likely that these people will not be able to return home or are simply afraid to do so. The main causes of refugees fleeing their countries are war and ethnic, tribal and religious violence.
More than half of the refugees fleeing to Australia come from Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and Iraq. RAC explains that 2011 was the deadliest year of war for civilians in Afghanistan with 3021 killed and 4507 wounded in war-related violence. Similar situations can be found in Iran, Sri Lanka and Iraq, which is why the refugees make their way towards Australia.
The issue comes in to play when the UNHCR estimates that there were 10.4 million refugees worldwide at the start of 2011 and Australia’s intake during that time was only 13,799 people, translating to less than 0.14%.
As of right now it is reported that there are at least 200 refugee asylum seekers who are out of process and at risk of deportation. The Refugee Action Coalition explains that among those facing deportation is Afghani Ismail Mirza Jan. Ismail fled Afghanistan in 2001, after his father was killed. As of now he no longer has any family, community ties or hope.
The 1958 Migration Act states that it is not illegal for anyone to seek asylum in Australia, even if arriving by boat. Both Ismail and RAC believe that he should not be deported to a place where he no longer belongs. Amnesty International specifically addresses that the number of refugees who have arrived by boat that have been terrorist is zero.
Overall, the Refugee Action Coalition of Sydney is simply being an advocate for those who are not able to voice an opinion for themselves.
– Lindsey Lerner
Sources: RAC, UN Refugee Agency, Amnesty International