Peace and refugees


In the wake of this week's rooftop protest by asylum seekers at the Villawood Detention Centre, Caritas Australia is urging Australians to be mindful of the horrific circumstances that force millions into asylum each year.

Caritas Australia’s International Programs Manager Jamie Davies said it was important to remember that the men, women and children living in Australia’s detention system have fled to this country in pursuit of a secure and peaceful future.

“In most cases, individuals who come to Australia by boat have fled the very real threat of violence in countries plagued by civil war and internal conflict,” Jaime said. "As well as the obvious physical risks, the psycho-social impacts of prolonged violence and apprehension undoubtedly take a heavy toll on communities.

“Watching the distressing scenes unfold at Villawood Detention Centre forces us to assess the living conditions inside Australia’s detention centres. But moreover, we forced to imagine the kind of peril and fear that these individuals are so desperate to leave behind.

“As we look to our leaders to address the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia’s care, we must not forget to look further afield and call for action on a global scale.”

Community-based peace building

Earlier this week, world leaders started talks at the United Nations in New York on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the establishment of a framework to achieve the eight development targets by 2015.

The eight MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates and fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, as well as developing a global partnership for development.

Caritas Australia is urging Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd  to come away from the UN Summit on MDGs with an action plan for the eradication of poverty, to ensure the root causes of conflict and insecurity are addressed in the next five years.

“We hold that an integrated approach to development: income generation, health, education and the environment, is crucial to brokering peaceful solutions to entrenched and systemic conflict,” Jaime said.

“It’s this community-based peace building that upholds the human dignity of men, women and children caught up in conflict can establish lasting peace and stability in impoverished communities the world over.”

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