News / Asia

Resentment Festers as Detainees Await Australian Security Clearance

A man walks past the smoldering remains of burnt out buildings at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, April 21, 2011
A man walks past the smoldering remains of burnt out buildings at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre, April 21, 2011

Refugee groups say a backlog of asylum claims continues to foment unrest in Australia's immigration detention centers.  Earlier this year the federal government said intelligence agencies would speed up security checks of asylum seekers whose claims for refugee status have been approved.  However, hundreds of refugees are still being held in detention while they wait for their security clearance.

The Australian government promised earlier this year that all asylum seekers granted refugee status would have their cases finalized by the intelligence agencies by the end of April.

That has not happened and while 70 percent of the backlog has now been cleared, the delay has left about 900 detainees still locked up in immigration facilities while security checks are carried out.  Most of those detained are from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq.

Refugee groups say that their frustrations are in part responsible for a wave of unrest inside Australia’s detention centers in recent weeks, including the camp at Villawood in suburban Sydney, where several buildings were torched by protesters.  Last week there were two attempted suicides by inmates at a facility in the northern city of Darwin, which campaigners say are further examples of a system in crisis.

Among those still being detained despite being granted a refugee visa by Australia four months ago is a 17-year old Hazara from Afghanistan.

He has asked that his identity not be disclosed and says that his feelings of despair grow with each passing day.

"I do not like to talk about my past life because it make me crazy, makes me sad.  A lot of bad happened.  And since I came to Australia for now I miss my family.  Every night I have bad dreams about them," he said. " I would like to study law because I want to be [a] lawyer and when I be lawyer I want to [offer] help to some people like myself."

Australia’s immigration department says some security checks take longer than others and that such investigations must be thorough.  Officials say the process usually takes about two months to complete, almost twice as long as it did two years ago.

A steady flow of asylum seekers arriving in Australian waters by boat in recent months has put the issue of border protection at the top of the political agenda.  A surge in unauthorized arrivals has put pressure on the network of detention camps, including the largest at Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.  Overcrowding there has forced the government to send detainees to the mainland.

However, most asylum seekers who ask Australia for protection arrive by air.

Each year Australia grants visas to about 13,000 refugees under various humanitarian resettlement programs.  

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid