Monday, December 20, 2010

Very Bittersweet Irony - Boat People Tragedy

Australia has a bit of a problem with asylum seekers arriving by boat, otherwise known as boat people, to the tune of about 1500 per year. That pales in comparison with some refugee numbers in European countries but it is considered to be a big deal in this country. Nobody says too much about some two hundred thousand odd people a year who have arrived in the country legally and have come on planes, usually overstaying a visa and/or living/working illegally. You would have thought that it would be much simpler to keep an eye on these people and deport them once they've overstayed their welcome as you know who they are, when they are supposed to be leaving and would have a fair idea of where they are staying.

Back to the boat people. They can stay for years in detention centres waiting to be identified and granted asylum. Of course this leads to unrest, protest and violence as you can expect from people locked up for great lengths of time when they have come here for a better life.

Last week, on December 15th, a boat was smashed on the coastline of Christmas Island. The search for survivors has now been called off but those who did survive will be called upon to identify the bodies. I heard a report on the ABC news this morning that half of the 30 people known to have perished have been identified.

How very bittersweet. Instead of taking years to identify people in detention who are alive we can identify dead people within a week. What does this say about our processing of asylum seekers? We can do a much better job if we really want to. Maybe we haven't proven who they are though so it's not quite the same and they wouldn't be in a position to be granted asylum and released into the community if they were alive.


Anonymous said...

Our problem is illegals from Mexico. What is the solution if anyone knows please tell us.

Iris Flavia said...

Yep, that´s really Irony...
And the same here, too (without the boats, certainly)