Feature

Australia: How we keep out refugees

Australia’s refugee policy is leading to violence and death because that’s exactly what it was designed to do.

Waleed Aly
The Age

Australia’s refugee policy is leading to violence and death because that’s exactly what it was designed to do, said Waleed Aly. One person died and more than 75 were injured in a riot last month at a refugee center in Papua New Guinea, where Australia now sends all asylum seekers to be processed and warehoused. It appears that either local Papua New Guineans attacked the refugees, or their police did. “Sorry, but we don’t get to be outraged at this.” What did we think would happen when we outsourced refugee management to an underdeveloped neighbor? “Let us make this calculus finally explicit: Whatever these people are fleeing, whatever circumstance makes them think they’d be better off chancing death on boats hardly worthy of that description, we must offer them something worse.” The more horrendous the conditions in the Papua New Guinea center, the stronger the deterrent to potential asylum seekers. The capital of the country is one of the least livable cities on the planet—wracked by lawlessness, poverty, and violence—and easily worse than many of the places the refugees fled. “That’s the reason the policy of transferring boat people to PNG is meant to work: because we’re pointedly not offering these people protection.”

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