Afghan Asylum Seekers in Australia Essay
Afghanistan is a war torn country located in central Asia. There are currently approximately 319, 000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan. (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2012) The poverty is extreme, there are frequent natural disasters that tear down cities and villages, (Refugees International, 2001) and the people are in continual danger of violence. This violence includes constant suicide bombings, ambushes, abductions and rocket attacks. In 2009 there were at least 12 of these incidences every day. (Kazem-Stojanovic, 2011) They are living in fear of their lives 24/7. Due to a severe drought in 2011, there is a lack of food and therefore thousands are suffering from starvation. (Refugees International, 2001) There is also the current issue of the coalition forces deciding to take their troops out at the end of 2014. (Amiri, 2012) Citizens fear that once they are gone the Taliban will regain full control again. The security is rapidly deteriorating.
This is making it harder for the UN and aid agencies to reach communities in need. Schools and health clinics are being shut down in many areas where communities have been threatened by the Taliban to stop supporting the Afghan government. (Refugees International, 2001) Even the police are often seen as a greater source of insecurity than the Taliban, because many of them are linked to criminal gangs and are involved in violent crime such as kidnapping and robberies. (Kazem-Stojanovic, 2011) In this country, there is no safe place to go. Even the people you’re supposed to be able to trust (the police) are a threat to your safety. I don’t blame them for their desperation to leave. Their fear is so strong that people are paying up to $30 000 to people smugglers to come to Australia, (Amiri, 2012) only to be treated badly in a country that they thought would be the start to the life they deserve. For most asylum seekers, arriving in Australia is a major shock.
They are met with hostility and mandatory detention. After arriving on Christmas Island, they are put on buses that drive to the detention centre. (Dulwich CentrePublications) They are constantly being watched over by armed guards, which is similar to the control and lack of freedom that they were trying to escape. They are made to sit upon the ground, with women and children separated from the men. They are then searched by the guards. From here on out, it is the long and torturous wait while their applications for immigration are assessed. (Boat people arriving in christmas island, 2011) When Afghani people were interviewed, they said they felt they were treated like animals in the prison. They thought that Australia had humanity and if they had known that it would be like that they wouldn’t have come.
They are denied access to lawyers, they have no access to medical care and they have no knowledge as to how their application is going. (60 mins inside story on australian detention centres, 2012) This long wait and the realisation that they still don’t have freedom leads to many suicides and self-harm. Not only does this affect the inmates themselves, but also fellow detainees and workers. They feel like they are living in a war zone all over again and that their attempts to escape danger and violence have failed. (60 mins inside story on australian detention centres, 2012) Detainees have admitted to having major depression and feeling themselves going insane. When they ask for help with their problem they are ignored. (Harley, 2012)Their depression and frustration just continues to build and this is most likely going to lead to a hatred attitude towards Australia which they would’ve never developed if the policy was different.
So clearly, the policy needs to be reformed, because according to the 2010 Australian of the Year, mental health advocate Pat McGorry, the detention is centres are “factories for producing mental illness”. Although the majority of Afghans have negative experiences with Australia, there are some positive stories. There is a family that has been released from the detention centre and are now Australian citizens. They said they feel happy and very thankful. Now that they are out of the prison they see Australia as a good place. They said it’s a totally different world in there. Even though they now have freedom, they are still traumatised by what they experienced in the detention centre as well in their home countries. They find it hard to cope with the hanging and self- harm that they witnessed during their time in the jail. (Harley, 2012)
The economic costs of his program definitely impact tax payers. In the past year it has cost around $600 million to detain these people. (Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, 2012) As an average cost, $80 000 is spent on each and every detainee every year. (Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, 2012) If asylum seekers were allowed to live in the community while their applications were processed, huge savings could be made. Although this sounds like a lot of money that would have detrimental effects on the economy, studies have shown that immigration has a neutral to marginally positive effect on the economy. (Williams, 1996) When looking at the positives, refugees can make invaluable contributions in business, academia, literature and virtually every other field of life if given the opportunity. They also increase jobs due to the amount needed to match the demand of food and accommodation. The following quote suggests that the poor treatment of the asylum seekers is not going to help anything.
“The reception that refugees receive upon their arrival in Australia can be of utmost importance in affecting the potential social, cultural and economic contributions they will be able to make.” (Stevenson, 2005) If they were treated better it’s more likely that when they get out, they will make a positive contribution to society. Australians have always had a reasonably negative outlook on asylum seekers coming to Australia. But in reality, we are not told a lot about the truth on what realy happens in the process. In fact we hardly have any real knowledge at all. “To be honest, the only information I have about asylum seekers situation has been picked up from media representation.” (Anonymous, Murdoch university, Perth Australia) This quote proves that due to the lack of information from the government, Australian’s are getting their knowledge from the media.
The media usually represents the asylum seekers as an annoyance, a huge cost and negative to Australia. Therefore the majority of Australia develops these attitudes and beliefs when they are not true. There are many myths and misunderstandings amongst Australians. Many believe that the asylum seekers must be “cashed up” to be able to pay the people smugglers, however this is incorrect. Families fleeing often have a network of people supporting them financially. (Anne Pedersen, 2005) They also fear that when they are let out they may spread disease and commit crimes as a rebellion act.
If they were treated properly in the first place there would be no need for rebellion anyway. Australian’s need to be educated on the truth about asylum seekers because then they will be more likely to see the whole concept positively. When Australia see’s it positively the government should be willing to change the program to align with what Australian citizens believe is right. Therefore in order to change the policy to become more humane, awareness needs to be raised on the topic and the truth needs to be exposed. Then these people will be treated like human beings and finally get the freedom they deserve.
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