Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Two asylum seekers have

set themselves alight recently. One has died. The other is in a critical condition in hospital.
Refugee advocates blame the Australian government for these actions. I don't. I blame the refugee advocates. 
I realise that may bring down the wrath of many on my head but I hope at least some of you will go on reading this and consider what I have to say.
First of all I don't believe Australian takes in as many refugees as it could. We could do better, of course we could do better. We need to do better. 
Second, we need to handle refugees quite differently from the way we now do. I have said elsewhere in this blog that many refugees want to go home eventually. Many of them are desperately homesick. They want to return to their countries of origin when it is safe to do so. We should be doing much more to make that possible. 
At this end we should be providing people with protection. That does not necessarily mean saying, "Yes, you can live here for the rest of your days." It may mean saying, "Yes, you can stay here until it is safe to return."
That is not nearly as harsh as it sounds. By far the greatest number of those seeking asylum have been healthy young men. They should be able to go back sometime - go back and help to rebuild their countries. If they don't do that then those countries are going to be even worse off than they are now. Refugees and asylum seekers should not be seen as migrants.
Refugee advocates seem to see things differently. Some of them at least seem to believe that anyone who wants "asylum" is a "refugee" and that everyone who asks should be granted it. I know they are at odds with the Immigration Minister over this but,  if they are encouraging those claiming asylum to protest, then they are responsible for what happens to them. I know a certain Senator says that protest is the only  hope some of these people have. I disagree.  There are alternatives.
A colleague went to Nauru recently. He came away a little bewildered. He had been reading newspaper reports about conditions there. He, rather naively perhaps, thought people were somehow still locked up and living in tents. It was the impression being given by the media. He found a quite different situation. It wasn't ideal and not everyone was happy with it but it was far better than he had been led to believe. He also came away believing that it is a minority who agitate and that yes, advocates do stir up unrest.  He went with the attitude of many of the advocates and protesters. He came away feeling angry that a difficult situation is being made far worse by advocates who don't need to handle the practicalities of preventing people from drowning at sea, assessing claims for asylum, and making sure that those who do come here are fed, housed, educated and - where possible - employed. 
I am tired of the simplistic approach of the refugee advocates. I don't know what the answers are but I do know that I'd far rather the money this agitation costs was spent on helping refugees so they can, one day, go home and rebuild.  To do anything less than that is to treat people as less than human - and that makes me angry.