July 17, 2013
Asylum seekers should be seen as individual human beings and not anonymous groups, Christmas Island administrator Jon Stanhope has said, as the second boat disaster in a week led to more asylum seeker deaths.
In the latest tragedy, four asylum seekers are dead after a boat carrying about 150 people sank north of Christmas Island as rescuers were trying to assist it on Tuesday.
The former ACT chief minister, who has been Christmas Island’s administrator since last October pointed to the death of a one-year-old in a boat sinking on Friday, who has not been publicly named, saying he wished the child had been identified.
”I sometimes wish that perhaps some of the debate, some of the commentary … that each of us would perhaps look at asylum seekers not as a bulk anonymous grouping of individuals, but as individual human beings that have hopes and aspirations and dreams and feel the same pain and suffer the same grief as each of us,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
”We have a one-year-old baby in our mortuary, the child of an asylum seeker family. I wished we named [him] … I wish we humanised them. I wish we gave them that respect in death.”
Mr Stanhope said that about 100 people were arriving a day on the island. ”The arrivals are constant,” he said.