Debunking Myths about Asylum Seekers

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Posted by David Chibo ( on January 30, 2002 at 21:40:40:

Myth 1 - Boat People are Queue Jumpers

Fact: In Iraq and Afghanistan, there are no queues for people to jump. Australia has no diplomatic representation in these countries and
supports the International coalition of nations who continue to oppose these regimes and support sanctions against them. Therefore, there
is no standard refugee process where people wait in line to have their applications considered. Few countries between the Middle East
and Australia are signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention, and as such asylum seekers are forced to continue to travel to another
country to find protection.
People who are afraid for their lives are fleeing from the world’s most brutal regimes including the Taliban in Afghanistan and Sadaam
Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq. Antonio Domini, Head of UN Humanitarian Program in Afghanistan, states that Afghanistan is one of the most
difficult places in the world in which to survive

Myth 2 - Asylum Seekers are Illegal

Fact: This is untrue. Under Australian Law and International Law a person is entitled to make an application for refugee asylum in
another country when they allege they are escaping persecution. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that
"Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."
People who arrive on our shores without prior authorisation from Australia, with no documents, or false documents are not illegal. They
are asylum seekers - a legal status under International Law. Many Asylum Seekers are forced to leave their countries in haste and are
unable to access appropriate documentation. In many cases oppressive authorities actively prevent normal migration processes from
occurring. ‘Illegals’ are people who overstay their visas. The vast majority of these in Australia are from western countries, including 5,000
British tourists.

Myth 3 - Australia Already Takes Too Many Refugees

Fact: Australia receives relatively few refugees by world standards. In 2001 Australia will receive only 12 000 refugees through its human-itarian
program. This number has remained static for three years, despite the ever-increasing numbers of refugees’ worldwide. Australia
accepted 20 000 refugees each year at the beginning of the 1980’s.
According to Amnesty International 1 in every 115 people on earth are refugees, and a new refugee is created every 21 seconds. Refugees
re-settle all over the world. However, the distribution of refugees across the world is very unequal.
• Tanzania hosts one refugee for every 76 Tanzanian people (1:76)
• Britain hosts one refugee for every 530 British people (1:530)
• Australia hosts one refugee for every 1583 Australian people (1:1583)

Myth 4 - We’re Being Swamped by Hordes of Boat People

Fact: 300 000 refugees arrived in Europe to seek asylum last year. In contrast, 4174 reached Australia by boat or plane. In 2000, Iran and
Pakistan each hosted over a million Afghan refugees. The real burden of assisting refugees is borne in the main by the world’s poorest

Myth 5 - They’re Not Real Refugees Anyway

Fact: 97% of applicants from Iraq and 93% of applicants from Afghanistan seeking asylum without valid visas in Australia in 1999 were
recognised as genuine refugees. Therefore, under Australian law they were found to be eligible to stay in Australia. Generally, 84% of all
asylum seekers are found to be legitimate refugees and are able to stay in Australia.

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