#1008 for broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 14 Dec 2014.
Contrary to the assurances of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison that he has “stopped the boats,” asylum seekers are launching their desperate bids for freedom on the high seas in ever-increasing numbers.
The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that 21,000 people have departed the Bangladesh-Burmese border during October and November this year, up 37 per cent from last year. Globally, 350,000 people have fled their homeland by boat this year.
Not all are seeking asylum, but the key to reducing these numbers is not to pass laws guaranteeing cruelty, but to increase pathways for safe, properly managed cross-border movement.
Central to such an approach are regional initiatives supporting the Refugees Convention, upholding human rights, supporting the UNHCR resettlement process, and treating asylum seekers with the dignity and compassion they deserve as persons created in the image of God, rather than as a political football to be kicked at will by politicians to garner votes and bolster their flagging political fortunes.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.