Cardinal Pell calls for offshore processing of asylum-seekers


In the wake of the Java boat tragedy, the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell has spoken in favour of offshore processing of asylum-seekers, while the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO) and the Edmund Rice Centre (ERC) have called for an increase in the annual humanitarian intake.

Responding to the news that hundreds of people were missing at sea after a ship sank off the coast of Indonesia, Cardinal Pell told The Australian that an offshore regime may be the only viable way to prevent refugees from being exploited by human-trafficking syndicates.

“The people-smugglers are evil and irresponsible money-makers prepared to risk the destruction of their passengers. These deaths are a tragedy,”  Cardinal Pell said. 

“It's difficult to see any alternative to the government and opposition promptly agreeing on effective offshore deterrents. Australians do not want more tragedies like this.”

Meanwhile, ACMRO Director Fr Maurizio Pettenà CS has said the tragedy highlights the great need for Australia to increase its humanitarian intake.

“This is a time to reflect on what we can all do better together to protect people in need. It is important to understand that people who risk their lives at sea do so because  more secure avenues are denied to them,” Fr Pettenà said.

“Various solutions are being proposed and all should be examined on their merits. Our failure to find ways of sharing the numerous resources that we have in Australia points out the failure of our own political and social systems to fully embrace the extent of human suffering.”

ERC Director Phil Glendenning has called for a doubling of Australia's national humanitarian migration intake, with the increase taking the form of a major program of settlement of refugees from within our own region.

Such an initiative would remove the incentive for people of jumping on a boat and risking their lives,” Mr Glendenning said.

“We need a regional solution that has the region in it – both the Malaysia and Nauru proposals are not regional processes. They offer no lasting solution.”

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