Human Rights Organisations Call for Immediate Action on Offshore Detention
3 February 2017 at 2:54 pm
Human rights organisations across the country have united to call for immediate action on offshore detention and for refugees on Manus Island and Nauru to be brought to safety in Australia.
With the uncertainty surrounding the US-Australia refugee resettlement arrangement continuing, the coalition, led by the Refugee Council of Australia, has issued an open statement expressing their concern over the “humanitarian crisis that Australia has created”.
“This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken,” the statement read.
“Beyond the reports of physical and sexual abuse, including of children, inadequate medical attention, suicides and attempted suicides, even a murder, the extinguishment of hope has pushed people to the edge.
“Many of these people have been recognised as refugees. We owe them protection and safety now.”
The organisations were critical of the time spent by the politicians in “lengthy negotiations”.
They called on the federal government to bring the refugees to Australia.
“With the US resettlement deal in serious doubt, the most obvious and humane solution is to clear the camps and bring these people to Australia until a safe long term, appropriate outcome for them can be guaranteed,” they said.
“We do not have years. Australia cannot allow another person to die or suffer because of our actions.
“This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety.”
Their demands come just days after US President Donald Trump hailed the agreement to resettle up to 1,250 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres as “a dumb deal” and told Malcolm Turnbull during a private telephone call that it was the “worst deal ever”.
Turnbull remains adamant that the deal brokered between Obama and Turnbull last November will take place.
But RCOA president and Edmund Rice Centre director Phil Glendenning said the ongoing media and political speculation was “only making life worse” for the people on Manus Island and Nauru who “have already suffered so much”.
“As political games are played in Canberra and Washington, the real victims are the refugees who have been left languishing for over three years,” Glendenning said.
“Today we are saying enough is enough. People have suffered for too long. The political games have gone on for too long. Mr Turnbull and Mr Shorten must put an end to the partisanship and urgently bring these people to safety in Australia.”
He said as the international community was facing the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War Two, it was time to stop relying on the US.
“It is simply beyond embarrassing that our leaders are refusing to bring 1,600 people to safety in Australia and instead are relying on a volatile US President,” he said.
“Forty years ago, Malcolm Fraser and Bill Hayden came together, put partisanship aside and welcomed Vietnamese refugees to Australia. It’s now time this generation’s Malcolm and Bill did the same.”