Malaysia deal presents false, demeaning picture of refugees

29/07/2011

The St Vincent de Paul Society National Council has criticised the Malaysia deal, citing Australia’s responsibilities as a global citizen.

National Council Chief Executive Dr John Falzon said the deal presents a false and demeaning picture of the plight of refugees.

"The last thing we should be doing is to reinforce the myth of 'deserving' versus 'undeserving' asylum seekers," Dr Falzon said.

"Despite the hype engaged in by both sides of politics, the reality is that Australia is the destination of only two per cent of the people seeking asylum in industrialized nations across the world.

"Sadly, many people across the globe continue to live in conditions that are dangerous and de-humanising."

Dr Falzon said Australia should play a responsible role in providing a safe haven for the people who need it, irrespective of the means by which they have sought to come here.

"As the Government well knows, they are exercising a legitimate right in requesting asylum," he said.

"They should have their claims processed with dignity and speed, without unnecessary detention and on Australian soil."

St Vincent de Paul Society National President Anthony Thornton said the need to act with compassion as a nation in the global context was illustrated by the current East Africa crisis.

"The famine in the Horn of Africa has left at least 10 million people in need of food, water and basic facilities. Half of these are children," Mr Thornton said.

"These people are no different to any of us. They are, however, a sad reminder that we live in a world where life and human dignity are rationed out with deepening inequality and despair."


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