Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia

With the imminent closure of Manus Island, The Australian government may find itself in a quandary.

The local PNG population has not taken kindly to the refugees; the Americans are only looking at taking a small number, if any; and the balance have been given the poor choice of returning to their homeland and facing the dire consequences.

Meanwhile the Australian population is not happy with the situation at all.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Refugee Council of Australia*, Mr Paul Power, has pleaded with the Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Turnbull, in an especially poignant letter outlining many of the points needing immediate addressing.

He reminded him that the fourth anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s decree of the ‘Regional Resettlement Arrangement’ had passed and resulted in over 2,000 people who sought Australia’s protection being sent to long term detention in PNG and Nauru.

Apart from the psychological harm done to these human beings, Australian taxpayers have paid over $5 billion for the project and has a poor reputation within the international community.

In addressing the fears of uncertainty and psychological suffering sustained by the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru, Mr Power pointed out that “none of them has ever wanted to be in detention and all have constantly asked for their detention to end.”

However, now that they are being told that they must leave the detention centre and live in the community on Manus Island, they are deeply concerned about their safety and their future.

They have heard of others now living in the community who have been assaulted and left destitute. They are confused as to why the Australian government is now abandoning them with no hope or future.

Speaking on behalf of many Australians, The Chief Executive Officer put to Mr Turnbull the depth of concern and despair about the aspects of the Australian policy and questioned why the government would spend so much money on adding to the suffering of vulnerable people.

The UNHCR statistics shows that Australia’s contribution remains small despite a significant increase in settlement arrivals in 2016.

Last year 27,626 resettled refugees arrived in Australia with the increase being due to the one-off commitment of 12,000 places for Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

In summary, Australia has accepted 1.36% of the 2.5 million refugees around the world.

The UNHCR has stated that Australia’s politicians mislead the Australian public when they suggest this makes our nation one of the world’s most generous.

*Refugee Council of Australia  –  www.refugeecouncil.org.au