Which country accepts responsibility of asylum seekers?
The issue of asylum seekers has been in the news again, although in some way it’s the absence of news that’s been causing some concern, particularly with regard to turning back boats to Indonesia.
There appears to be no solution to this ongoing problem.
When the UN Convention on Refugees was agreed to in 1951, it was assumed that all refugees would mainly travel to a neighbouring country and remain there until a resettlement opportunity occurs. Nowadays with the breakdown of national boundaries through free trade and tourism, people travel everywhere seeking asylum.
But which country should accept responsibility? In Australia, we are keen to send back the boats to Indonesia, but these people don’t come from Indonesia. If they’re deemed to be illegal migrants in Australia, surely they’re illegal migrants in Indonesia. So what right do we have to send them back to Indonesia?
The only solution must be a regional solution, where all countries who have asylum seekers within their borders reach agreement together on how we as a region should respond.
This is not just an Australian problem. Apparently Europe receives as many asylum seekers in a month as we do in a year. They have a similar debate about asylum seekers crossing poorer countries trying to find a welcoming country which can offer more employment opportunities. In Europe only European countries can answer this problem, and discussions are now taking place.
Surely there is a similar situation here facing Australia and our Asian neighbours.