Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Somali refugees waiting in Indonesia, say they're being forced to take dangerous boat voyages because Australia is refusing to resettle Africans.
The refugees say they have been told by the United Nations
refugee agency, in Jakarta, that there's no point applying to be
resettled in Australia.
They wonder whether they're being rejected automatically from Australia's humanitarian program because of their skin colour.
Indonesia Correspondent, George Roberts.
Presenter: George Roberts, Indonesia correspondent
Speaker: Adris Mahboud, Somali refugee; Muhammad Abdurahman, Somali refugee
(Sound of a busy street)
GEORGE ROBERTS: For Adris Mahmoud, looking after an extended family of nine in Jakarta is getting tough.
ADRIS MAHMOUD: I have so problem. My family is already here and I have my wife. I don't know what I do.
ROBERTS: The 24-year-old Somali refugee isn't allowed to work here, his
children can't go to school, and he's considering one last option.
ADRIS MAHMOUD: By boat. I not have anything, I go by boat. Already, I go by boat Inshallah.
ROBERTS: He was outside the UN Refugee Agency building, where we'd come
to meet another Somali man called Hussein. Instead a man Muhammad
Abdurahman was waiting for us.
(To Muhammad Abdurahman)
What has happened to Hussein?
MUHAMMAD ABDURAHMAN: Hussein has already got boat to Australia. I don't know if he's already arrived there
ROBERTS: Muhammad tells us that Hussein went by boat because he knew
that Somalians aren't being accepted by Australia as refugees from
overseas, but he's not the only one.
Muhammad thinks about 80 other Somali refugees and asylum seekers have left Indonesia by boat in the past two months.
Abdurahman has been granted UN refugee status and has been trying to
get resettled for three years. But like Hussein he's been told not to
bother applying to Australia, because it doesn't want to take Africans.
MUHAMMAD ABDURAHMAN: They just told us Australia don't want to take Somalis, Africans, but especially Somalis, they don't want.
ROBERTS: He says the UNHCR's case officers told the Somalian community
here in Jakarta that Australia doesn't want them. Muhammad says that
refugees from Somalia are human too and the only difference between them
and other refugees is skin colour.
He's asked if they're being discriminated against on the basis of being black.
MUHAMMAD ABDURAHMAN: My friend is from other country, coming here and going to Australia so fast.
ROBERTS: The UNHCR wouldn't confirm or deny that Australia isn't
willing to accept African refugees. In an email, a spokeswoman for the
Jakarta office said:
"I'm sorry but we are not able to answer your questions. I suggest you direct your questions to the government of Australia."
ROBERTS: The Australian Immigration Department's spokesman, Sandi
Logan, wasn't available for an interview, and his office indicated the
Minister would handle the inquiry.
Back in Jakarta, Mohamed
Abdurahman says he's heard Australian politicians urging refugees not to
get on boats. But if he can't apply for protection through the
so-called "regular process", there's little option left.
ABDURAHMAN: The only option I have to go is a boat and boat is dangerous
for me. Already my friend go to boat. That is not good for us.
GEORGE ROBERTS: Of the 2,000 UN recognised refugees currently waiting in Indonesia, 234 are from Somalia.
There are also about 8,000 registered asylum seekers here hoping to get refugee status - a process that can take years.