Currently the Australian Government is treating and labelling asylum seekers and refugees as criminals. There are many human rights laws being broken by our own government. (humanrights.gov.au)
Selfish and callous decisions are breaking people who are already broken by torture, persecution or war in their own country.
During 2012, a worldwide average of 23,000 people per day were forced to abandon their homes due to conflict and persecution. Australia received 15,963 applications for asylum for that entire year. (humanrights.gov.au)
Developing countries host over 80% of the world's refugees. In 2012 Pakistan hosted the largest number (1.6 million). (unhcr.org.uk)
Australia's' reaction? "No! You can't come to my country! It's MINE. You can't share my stuff!"
In a completely opposite approach, the country of Jordan has an open door policy with asylum seekers. Jordan claims anyone reaching their border in need will be granted refugee status. Some Jordanian families, often with not much of their own, have taken on Syrian families. They are showing true compassion and help.
Syria has been under civil war and oppression for 3 years now and its people have been fleeing to many neighbouring countries including Jordan. Hundreds of thousands of people since 2012 have fled to the Za'atari encampment in the desert of Jordan.
An article written for CNN by two journalist/photographers (who joined hundreds of Syrians who were fleeing) commented, "Nothing can take away from the pain and loss of being a refugee." ..... "Za'atari is a remarkable place because its residents are building a strong community out of what little they have. They build homes, invest in businesses, plant vegetable gardens and paint works of art. But every single Syrian refugee I spoke to said the same thing: if the war stopped today, I would be home tomorrow." (edition.cnn.com)
Many parts of Syria are uninhabitable. The unrelenting violence alongside lack of food, water and shelter has cause the displacement of millions of Syrians.
That's not to say that the way Jordan operates is best practise for Australia. Jordan would be feeling the pressure under this open door policy. Financially they would be struggling and the military strain with an added international population would be starting to show. The Syrians still in refugee camps across Jordan (estimated numbers of half a million people) are not particularly thriving as such; with limited income and relying upon aid. I would suggest on a worldwide scale we have a responsibility to support Jordan and their compassion. And on the most part the world is coming to the party financially, and with aid, but they could always do more.
Humanitarian workers struggle to shelter, feed and educate the refugees as well as oversee the birth of a dozen babies each day.
Australia seems to have a very prideful outlook when it comes to asylum seekers. We put them off shore and spend millions of dollars up keeping these detention centre facilities. Out of sight out of mind?
Recently Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young visited the Lebanon, Jordan and Christmas Island camps. She described conditions in Lebanon and Jordan similarly as harsh as the centres on Christmas Island. However, she said the level of anxiety on the island was ''so much worse''.
''When I was in Jordan in the Za'atari camp, with 120,000 Syrian refugees, they feel safe and the whole camp is run to help people. Here people are being punished and they know they're being punished. The attitude is very different.'' Hanson-Young said. (smh.com.au)
I was extremely relieved to find on the UN Refugee Agency website (UNHCR) that they would be advocating to Australia (and New Zealand), for more resettlement places and support grassroots - and community-based civil society projects geared to the development of more tolerant and balanced public perceptions of asylum and refugee issues.
The agency is aware of the intolerance and imbalanced public perception of the Australian people. It is time to change this. Time for the media to report the truth and for the champions of human rights to come forward with solutions for the developed and developing nations. It is time for some better treatment for asylum seekers coming to Australia. It is time for the Government to stop their inhumane policies and procedures.
In his book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman says, "Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection - or compassionate action."
Belinda Croft has been writing for Press Service International since 2010. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Russell and sons Brandon and Ardon. Her passion for understanding the things of God in simple ways, social justice and news issues influence her writing style.
Belinda Croft's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/belinda-croft.html