September 13, 2012
ABOUT 90 per cent of asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat are genuine refugees and not economic migrants, the UN says.
Richard Towle, regional representative for the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, told a forum organised by the Anglican Archdiocese of Brisbane on Thursday that the political debate on refugees is misleading.
“It’s eroded public support of the idea of asylum, and trust in the entire system of receiving and protecting people who come to Australia,” Mr Towle said.
“It’s time the facts were on the table.
“Let’s be clear; this is a refugee movement.”
The alternative, he said, is to wait in camps for years, sometimes decades, with no real prospect of going home or somewhere better.
“If we were in the same situation, we would all put our money in the hands of someone who could get us out,”he said.
“If a fire is burning in a building, everyone wants to get out.”
Mr Towle told the forum the notion of queue jumping is false logic.
“It’s a completely artificial construct; there is no queue.
“There never was a queue, it’s a cruel deception on people to suggest like at a bank you wait patiently for your number and will be picked to go.”
He said some nationalities, like Somalis, have no chance of being resettled because of security issues.
“If you want to come to Australia to claim asylum, the only way you can really do it is by boat because all other ways are simply impossible.”