News / Asia

Australia Asylum Plan Dims Prospects for Refugees in Limbo

Indonesian police officers guard asylum seekers on a patrol boat upon arrival at a port in Merak, Banten province, Indonesia, Oct 12, 2012.
Indonesian police officers guard asylum seekers on a patrol boat upon arrival at a port in Merak, Banten province, Indonesia, Oct 12, 2012.
Kate Lamb
Refugees hoping to reach Australia are speaking out about Canberra’s plan to bar all asylum seekers who arrive by boat and instead resettle those eligible in Papua New Guinea. In Indonesia, plan of Hazara asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Pakistan to seek asylum in Australia appears out of reach.

Down a dark alleyway off the main road in Puncak, a group of ethnic Hazaras spend their days in limbo.

The mountain town about an hour south of Jakarta is home to a large asylum seeker community - mostly ethnic Hazaras that have fled persecution in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan.

Most have paid people smugglers to ferry them across multiple borders. They travel from Thailand, through the jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia until they end up here, waiting to board a fishing boat and the promise of a new life in Australia.

But with more than 15,000 asylum seekers arriving on boats already this year, the Australian government is now taking a hardline approach.

Under a new agreement announced last week, all boat arrivals will be processed offshore. If their asylum claims are approved, they will be permanently resettled in Papua New Guinea - not in Australia.

In Puncak, Hazaras like 28-year-old Sayed Kamaluddin Mousani are still trying to work out what it all means.

“Everyone here, all the asylum seekers are very sad. What does it mean that Australia will send some people to Papua New Guinea, for what? I don’t believe it is the solution,” said Mousani.

Sayed fled from Afghanistan to Iran after he was learned he was being headhunted by the Taliban. Later, the English teacher fled Iran after extremists discovered that his brother was working for the BBC news agency.

Sayed has been in Indonesia for five months now and is waiting for his family to send him the $5,000 he needs to pay a smuggler to take him on the perilous journey to Australia.

“I am scared, but I have no chance for living here. When my money is finished what can I do? It is better for me to go as soon as possible. And the ocean is dangerous, most of the people who arrive to Australia say never come by boat, because it is very dangerous. I know this,” he said.

While living illegally in Indonesia, asylum seekers cannot work or study. Most have limited funds. Taking the legal route and applying for asylum with the U.N. refugee agency can take years. Many cannot afford to wait that long.

The more seasoned asylum seekers who have experienced failed boat trips and jail time say that Australia’s asylum policies have changed before and could change again.

Hazara Mohammed Ali Babu, 47, who first arrived in 2010 from Pakistan, is doubtful the new Papua New Guinea deal will go forward.

“When I was here in Bogor, Australia announced that asylum seekers will be shifted to Nauru, but all their policies are in vain, they didn’t implement it, they didn’t act upon their policies. So I made mistake, I didn’t go because of their announced policies, so I think no one can believe this new policy,” said Babu.

Rights advocates say the new policy contradicts Australia’s obligations under the U.N. Refugee Convention - and that it’s not fair to dump refugees in the impoverished Pacific nation.

But even in the face of huge criticism - and a possible high court challenge - the Australian government is defending its position.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid