Seeking AsylumThe political enigma and moral challenge of the global refugee crisis
The global refugee crisis is one of the most emotive, controversial and divisive issues dominating the local and global stage.
We are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II with millions of people fleeing their homes out of a ‘well founded fear of persecution’. On the other hand, somewhat ironically, some are experiencing a sense of fear and insecurity because increasing numbers of refugees are seeking security within their borders.
So what are the ethical obligations and moral responsibilities to such a massive crisis of human displacement?
Integrity 20’16 Program
TUES 25 OCT
The political enigma and moral challenge of the global refugee crisis
Thirty years ago if you had been told that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world you would not have been believed. Yet since that time we have introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat and have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned to the point of departure; that those who haven’t been able to be forcibly returned should be imprisoned on remote Pacific Islands; and that those marooned on these island camps should never be allowed to settle in Australia even after several years. How then has it come to pass?
We will march to show the powerful that we see through the barrage of poisonous, dehumanising rhetoric with which we’ve been bombarded in recent years. These refugees are not a “swarm”, as the Prime Minister labelled them, and they’re not “marauding” as they were branded by the Foreign Secretary. They are not, as they have been variously described in the media, an “organised mob”, an “unstoppable flood” or “the biggest threat to Europe since the war”.
It is important that those states with greatest capacity do not simply buy their way out of hosting refugees. Rather, they should host and fund protection. To do otherwise paints refugees merely as a burden, rather than as the contributors they so frequently become.
Dr Tim Soutphommasane is Race Discrimination Commissioner and commenced his five-year appointment on 20 August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, he was a political philosopher and held posts at The University of Sydney and Monash University.