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Religious know refugee issues well

MANY religious belonging to different congregations are at the forefront in working with refugees and asylum seekers both on the mainland and on Christmas Island.

Contrary to your letter correspondent Frank Pulsford’s assertions (CL 19/2/14), I am sure that their leaders do know what they are talking about in this matter.

He speaks of “illegal immigrants” suggesting that he is unaware of the perfectly legal right to claim asylum.

Asylum seekers, who have committed no crime, including children, are described as being “in custody”.

Harsh policies are justified by the need to save lives at sea but this concern for fellow human beings would be more credible if we saw similar concern for their lives and well-being once they reached our shores.

If our chief aim were to prevent drownings, we would be providing safer pathways for refugees in this region and we would not be reducing the number of resettlement places from a promised 20,000 to 13,000.

If we were concerned for their welfare, we would not be sending them to endure the conditions of the detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

Current policy is heavily weighted towards deterrence and this has led to the turn back/towback operations and the all-encompassing secrecy.

The Human Rights Commission is rightly inquiring into the situation of children in immigration detention.

In the concentration on people smugglers and their “pernicious trade” we have lost sight of those at the centre of the issue – desperate people prepared to risk their lives.

As the organisation, Jewish Aid asks: What would you do?

Genevieve Caffery

Written by: Staff writers
Catholic Church Insurance

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