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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs