ERC strongly condemns Government ban on African refugees

The Edmund Rice Centre, with a long background in working with people from the Horn of Africa , including refugees from Sudan, strongly rejected the Immigration Minister’s decision to reduce the African intake in Australia’s humanitarian visa program.

“Australia’s humanitarian programs must be based on need not on race. This fundamental tenet of a civilized nation should not be abandoned because an election is imminent”, Phil Glendenning, Edmund Rice Centre Director said today.

“It is very problematic to apply the criteria used for other forms of migration to refugees. The point behind humanitarian visas is that the people they are issued to require our help. Refugees are displaced people who have had no choice in being forced to flee from their countries.

“The Minister’s claim that the refugees from the Horn of Africa have lower educational standards is evidence of the need for support, not for rejection”, Mr Glendenning said.

“The UNHCR has reported that the needs of the Sudanese refugees are the most urgent in the world. The Government’s decision is bad policy. Compassion for people in need is not a weakness but a sign of strength in a nation”, Mr Glendenning said.

“The bottom line is that the Government sees itself in political difficulty approaching the election and is deliberately targeting one of the world’s most vulnerable communities for some sort of political gain. This is not leadership. This is lowest common denominator politics at its worst and indicates what some politicians think of the people who elect them”, Mr Glendenning said.

“Our experience supports the view of the Victorian Police who have reported that refugees from the Horn of Africa, on a per capita basis, are less likely to offend or be disruptive in the community than other Australians, who have been here a lot longer than them.

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