There is no ‘queue’ out of a refugee camp

CEO Social Justice Blog

There was a news release last week that the numbers of displaced persons around the world has exceeded a record high of 50 million.

Many are in camps within their own country, many are in refugee camps in another country and some are asylum seekers trying to gain admission to countries like Australia, bypassing the refugee camp/UNHCR Refugee Assessment Policy Strategy.

It’s not hard to understand why many people want to avoid refugee camps. Apparently they’re harsh and dangerous places for families to settle. Unless there’s a quick return home, most refugees could spend up to 2-3 decades in a refugee camp where there is no sanitation, medical centres, police force, employment and very little education for children. Apparently you can spend the whole day queuing for rations and protecting your children from assault.

There is no queue of successful refugees waiting to be transferred to host countries. It has been estimated that it would take some 157 years of waiting in a refugee camp before your name came up.

The only way to get to the top of the list is through corruption or having someone influential to push your case. It is small wonder then that people try to bypass the system and come as asylum seekers, where the welcome is not much better. It is particularly traumatic for children; they say childhood ends when a child enters a camp or a detention centre. We could do much more to welcome refugees to a country like Australia. We cannot sit back and allow hundreds of children to die in the harshest of circumstances, knowing that we could do more.

The hopelessness of many years living in a refugee camp must be absolutely devastating. We have the ability to do something about this, by increasing our refugee intake, and we should tell our political leaders that this is what we want.