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Why Do People Migrate? Part 1: Facts

Chapters 5 › Unit 5: SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS View instructions Hide instructions

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Read this article and share your views with colleagues. Is the Australian "Pacific solution" against human rights? What do you think of Nauru and the other "prison islands"?

As always, you can share your view by writing in your own journal, but also commenting on what others have written.

The Pacific (Non) Solution

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From 2001 and 2008 under the Pacific Solution over 1600 people were detained in Nauru and Manus (PNG) facilities, experiencing long periods of detention, physical and mental health damages, difficulty to have access to legal advice, poor living conditions.

The cost paid by the Australian taxpayers was more than $1 billion (as estimated by a report of Oxfam Australia, see http://resources.oxfam.org.au/filestore/originals/OAus-PriceTooHighAsylumSeekers-0807.pdf)).
After the end of this policy, in 2012 the Gillard Government resumed the offshore processing of asylum seekers in Nauru and Manus, where asylum-seekers and refugees are detained indefinitely, with no freedom of movement nor the opportunity to study and work, and being so able to become productive for themselves, their families and the country of reception. Human rights organizations and media have difficulties in visiting the detention centers.
According to a Research Paper for the Parliament of Australia (http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1516/Quick_Guides/Offshore#_Total_number_of) issued in Fall 2015, in Nauru 82% of asylum seekers had been found to be refugees, and in Manus the number is even higher reaching the 91%. The same paper gives proof that financial costs are still extremely significant (the combined budget expenditure in 2014–15 for operations in Nauru and PNG is approximately $1.2 billion dollars, excluding aid contributions). And above all, asylum seekers continue to arrive, as showcased in another research paper prepared for the Australian Parliament in 2015, stating that in 2014 the majority of asylum applicants arrived by air, with a valid visa (http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/AsylumFacts ). It seems clear that the Pacific Solution is controversial in terms of respect of human rights, but also of effectiveness, and costs, representing a non-solution.
More generally and to conclude, in a world characterized by increasing economic disparities among countries and many forms of violence and persecutions across the globe, rich and democratic states on the one hand are and will be steadily attracting a growing number of people seeking not only survival but also dignity and a better future, on the other are taking measures to curb the arrivals adopting a series of hard-line policies (mandatory detention, securization of borders, agreements – not for free - with transit countries to work as watchdogs on their behalf, as in the cases of the US with Mexico and the European Union with Turkey, or as detention centers as in the case of Australia with Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands ). These patterns seem to be so similar worldwide to become common trends in the management of migration issues today, yet people form misfortunate areas of the globe will be continuing to arrive, since on a boat life is risked once, where many migrants reside, they risk their lives every single day. These policies do not represent a long-term solution neither in political nor in economic terms. Internationally, if effective development, environmental and international policies for world peace and coexistence are not implemented, the number of migrants will never come to a halt but is destined to increase, no matter how dangerous the travels and routes are; internally, those hard-line solutions cost much public money of taxpayers, that could be spent to speed up the examination of asylum claims, integrate and include migrants in the community, make their life productive in the host country so that they can start paying back the initial investment made by the State for their reception. A big change is necessary, and we should work for it. “You may say I am a dreamer...”. certainly you know the rest of the lyrics.

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