mercoledì 20 febbraio 2013

Australia - One hundred refugees perish on voyage - Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor

Source: Herald Sun

Some of the 32 Burmese asylum seekers rescued by
the Sri Lankan navy. 
Source: The Daily Telegraph
ALMOST 100 dead asylum seekers headed for Australia were thrown overboard one by one by starving shipmates - and new Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor admits he has no short-term solution to slow down the influx of boats.

Mr O'Connor said 98 Burmese refugees died terrible deaths as they drifted without food. Their boat was found off Sri Lanka this week.
He admitted there had probably been other deaths in similar circumstances.
The Sri Lankan navy released shocking photographs of some of the 32 emaciated survivors, who ran out of food 21 days ago and had been at sea for two months.
"People floating around, people emaciated and 100 people might have perished. It just has to end," Mr O'Connor said. "It was nowhere near (Australia), I am advised it (the boat) was on its way here. A lot of people are just disappearing, out of sight, out of mind. Boats disappearing. It is very hard to put a number on it. Too many."
Despite declaring "we should never allow people smugglers to determine who we take in as refugees" and that "there are no Oskar Schindlers" in the people smuggling trade, Mr O'Connor admitted stopping boats would not be done quickly. But the government would continue to work through Houston panel recommendations, he said.
Australia has seen more than 33,000 people arrive since Labor was elected in November 2007, and dismantled the Howard government's Pacific Solution, which Mr O'Connor claimed would also have failed in the existing circumstances.
He said boat arrivals were a "constant pressure" for governments. "This cannot be done overnight, it can only be done over time," he said. "Anyone who says they can stop the boats will have to eat a lot of words if they're ever put into a position to have to do it."
He was critical of a lack of co-operation from the Coalition but has yet to make contact with opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison.
Mr O'Connor was also yet to speak with his counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka but planned to.
He said he was focusing on building permanent camps in Nauru and PNG.
A migrant himself, Mr O'Connor's first memory of
Australia was in a Nissen hut in a migrant hostel with his Irish parents and siblings.
His parents migrated to Australia in the late 1960s.
Mr O'Connor said it was not "right" or "safe" for people to come by boat: "If I can do anything to reduce that, I will."

He rushed from East Timor to Christmas Island on the day of the 2010 boat tragedy and comforted rescuers as they described seeing women clinging to their babies rather than taking ropes to save themselves. "I saw things I wouldn't want to see again," he said. "If anyone tells me it is just a line you don't want to endanger people's lives, it's not just a line."

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