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Immigration: the “formidable” Australian model

Held up as an example by supporters of “chosen” immigration, the asylum and migration policy practiced Down Under is nevertheless based on precarious solutions and a short-term view that flouts fundamental human rights.

A camp that pays…

Faced with these migrants who, according to Australian officials, threaten a country renowned for its sense of hospitality (but you have to be rich and/or white to be well received), the government of Canberra has developed a policy of “no way”, that is to say the radical refoulement of any person not provided with a visa in good and due form. It has concluded financial agreements with “neighboring” countries (a few thousand kilometers away all the same), such as Papua New Guinea, so that they open detention camps for these migrants, in return for payment. More specifically, two camps are financed by the Australians: that of Manus, on an island in PNG, and Nauru, a small independent state the size of an eighth of the Brussels region, populated by 11,500 inhabitants and formerly a tax haven – today, its main source of income is the management of this camp.

Only “good migrants” can come to Australia, that is to say capable of integrating into the economy and contributing to Australian growth. I can already hear roaring in the forums all those for whom it makes sense and that “we are not here to accommodate all the misery of the world”.

Except that…

Violations of international conventions and human rights

Australia adhered, like Belgium and 191 other countries, to the New York Declaration on Refugees and Migrants adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2016. Without the slightest ambiguity, this declaration recalls that , “ since the beginning of the world, people have been on the move, either to seek new perspectives and new economic outlets, or to escape armed conflict, poverty, food insecurity, persecution, terrorism or violations of human rights, or finally in response to the negative effects of climate change, natural disasters (some of which are linked to these changes) or other environmental factors. “If these flows have increased, the fact remains that” refugees and migrants enjoy the same fundamental freedoms and universal human rights “.

We must find solutions valid for all, in accordance with human rights. This solution can only be global: “ No State can manage these movements alone.
And the signatories of the Declaration undertake to ” save lives “in a task” above all moral and humanitarian “. You also need to find sustainable and long-term solutions. “But they are determined to fight” with all the means at our disposal the mistreatment and exploitation suffered by countless refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations. »

Precarious solutions

Australia is therefore committed to respecting all of this. But at the same time, Australia has decided to solve the problem alone, with precarious and short-term solutions, which inflict degrading treatment on people, even putting them in danger of death. All this at a disastrous economic cost: more than 3 billion euros in 5 years.

There are many criticisms of this policy. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has publicly condemned her on several occasions. The UN Commission on Human Rights denounces the fact that refugees are forced to return to their country, even if they risk being massacred there, like the Rohingyas of Burma.

Frightening testimonies attest to the inhuman conditions experienced by refugees imprisoned in Nauru or Manus in Papua, such as those of journalist Behrouz Boochani (who fled Iran and found himself in these camps) and the heartbreaking film which he made from oral testimonies, which evokes the moment when Australia stopped supplying the camps with water and electricity, and when the detainees found themselves confronted with the violence of the local populations who did not want to ‘them. In 2015, faced with growing criticism and in order to prevent public opinion from being better informed, the Australian government decided that any reporting on the conditions of detention in Nauru or Manus would be illegal.

The reactions in Australia

The Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank, also points out the major flaws in Australian policy:

Considering the already enormous cost committed for the current operations, it would not be possible to assume the increase of these expenses if the number of refugees were to increase;


The asylum capacities of Papua New Guinea or Nauru are limited;


The actions of the police are already on the verge of illegality;


Australia is the richest country in the region. The slightest conflict in South or Southeast Asia would lead to a significant increase in asylum applications, not to mention climate change and natural disasters that may hit the region.

For all these reasons, the Lowy Institute calls on Australia to reconsider its policy and to play a truly exemplary role for the rest of the world: ” The fact that Australia currently does not face the challenge of a large influx of boats or asylum seekers is another reason for it to engage. As Australians have learned in recent years, there is no political will to focus on a long-term solution when in the midst of a refugee crisis. And that is why Europe needs Australia to conceptualize, propose and lead the necessary reforms today. Especially since Australia has played an essential role in the application of the 1951 Convention on Refugees and Asylum, and has had more glorious pages in this area.

Citizen movements are also mobilizing, such as “I have a room” and, like the Citizen Platform, offers people to welcome refugees into their homes.

A global problem

No offense to Poland, Hungary, the N-VA and all those who think that the refugee crisis can be solved with walls and “firm but humane” policies, no country can solve only a global crisis, which growing conflicts and climate change are only increasing. The focus of political discourse on the migration issue is a decoy, in the first sense of the term, a trap to divert attention; the public money that is spent on this hunt is wasted and does not produce any long-term results, not to mention the fact that it is used for the non-respect of the international commitments that we have signed.

To want, like some, to regulate migration in order to accept only cream from us is scandalous: it is to ensure that the problem will never be solved at the source, if we deprive these countries of the elites they need to ensure their development. .

A global policy, as developed by the Lowy Institute, is based on a few principles: first, the relocation of refugees, in order to distribute the burden among several favored countries. But the most important thing is of course to devote the money, now swallowed up at a loss in walls and agreements with unworthy regimes, to the reconstruction of these countries, so that their nationals no longer need to flee, and that those who left can return. The money must also be invested in poorer but peaceful countries, which can accommodate these refugees – not in concentration camps.

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