It’s no wonder no-one will help Dutton – By Kaye Lee

Let’s cut to the chase.  Our refugee policy is a dismal failure and making it worse for cynical political purposes is despicable.  Dutton is a disgrace who has been increasingly emboldened by Turnbull’s weak-kneed pandering to the far right and Labor’s cowardly chase to the bottom for fear of losing the racist vote.

Stop the bullshit, admit you got it wrong, and start looking for solutions instead of someone to blame.

For starters, the oft-repeated dog whistle of 50,000 asylum seekers arriving under Labor should be put in perspective.  That is less than an average of 8,500 per year.

As Kevin Rudd points out, there were reasons for the spike in arrivals.

“During 2009-10, security circumstances changed rapidly in the region: the rolling disaster of the decision to invade Iraq led to a massive exit of asylum seekers; the new regime under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saw a fresh exodus from Iran; followed by a major civil war in Sri Lanka with Tamils fleeing from persecution.”

As inconceivable as it may have seemed that Turnbull would so completely turn into Abbott, he has now wholeheartedly taken up the “Stop the Boats” slogan, and is showing his “strength” by coming up with even worse ways to persecute people who long ago lost all hope.

Quoting Rudd again:

“This measure is about the politics of symbols, designed to throw red meat at the right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia. Turnbull, once an intelligent, global citizen, knows better.”

So have they stopped the boats and saved lives?

A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) found that in 2014 more people than ever took to the seas in search of asylum – an estimated 350,000 people.

The UNHCR and other agencies estimate that in 2014 more than 4000 individuals, including hundreds of children, did not survive these journeys.

In our region of Southeast Asia, the same UNHCR report estimated that, in 2014, 54,000 people undertook terrible risks on smugglers’ boats, the majority of whom left from the Bay of Bengal fleeing towards Thailand and Malaysia. Hundreds of others were moving further south in the Indian Ocean. This figure represents a 15% increase over the same period in 2013, and more than triple the estimated number of departures during the same period in 2012.

The majority of these were ethnic Rohingya fleeing ongoing violence in Burma’s Rakhine state. UNHCR estimated that, in 2014, 540 people died during these journeys, due to starvation, dehydration and beatings by crew members. UNHCR reports that those who do make it to Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia face detention, exploitation and violence.

An update from the UNHCR on September 20 describes the situation in Europe.

Despite the number of crossings this year (300,000) being 42 % lower than during the same period last year (520,000), the number of people reported dead or missing so far this year (3,211) is only 15 % lower than the total number of casualties for the whole of 2015 (3,771). At this rate, 2016 will be the deadliest year on record in the Mediterranean Sea.

This situation highlights the urgent need for States to increase pathways for admission of refugees, such as resettlement, private sponsorship, family reunification and student scholarship schemes, among others, so they do not have to resort to dangerous journeys and the use of smugglers.

We have been calling on EU Member States to increase pledges, including for unaccompanied and separated children, speed up the registration and transfers of candidates, and for more nationalities fleeing war and persecution to have access to the scheme.

Effective relocation is key to increasing solidarity and responsibility sharing in Europe, and ensuring the better management of movements, including helping to address irregular secondary movement and reliance on smuggler networks. This is particularly vital given the humanitarian situation in Greece, and the increasing number of people staying in Italy and applying for asylum.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, has pointed out that maritime movements are a growing phenomenon, which requires a range of responses including: effective search and rescue, proper systems to deal with arrivals and identifying those with protection needs. What is also required is identifying why people are fleeing and what is preventing them from fleeing by safer means.

In a speech last year, Guterres said:

But one thing is clear: focusing only on border control and deterrence will not solve the problem. It is the duty of any government to ensure security and to manage immigration, but these policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up becoming collateral damage… One cannot stop a person who is fleeing for life by deterrence, without escalating the dangers even more. Any effective response must also address the root causes of this phenomenon.

We have not stopped the boats or deaths at sea.  We have not stopped the people smugglers.  We have just made them everyone else’s problem and the suggestion that everyone else should do likewise is met with the disgust it deserves.

Is it any wonder that that odious creature, Dutton, can’t find any country willing to help him with his paltry (in comparison) problem brought about by his stubborn insistence on destroying the lives of a mere couple of thousand people who could so easily be brought to this country – problem solved.

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