The Sydney Morning Herald reported officials from Indonesia have asked Australia to accept more “official refugees” currently residing in Indonesia. The article from the Herald displays Indonesia’s frustration with the current system, or lack-there-of, for asylum-seekers trying to enter Australia.
Last year’s Houston inquiry into Australian policy on asylum seekers recommended an increase in the official intake from Indonesia to 600.
Refugees and people smuggling are not a big political issue in Indonesia, but the country’s immigration detention centres and some towns in West Java are groaning under the weight of 9000 official refugees and perhaps tens of thousands of unregistered ones, particularly Hazara people from Afghanistan
The alarming regularity asylum-seekers illegally entering Australia from boats and lack of legal processing for these people (1, 2, 3, 4) must be adressed in this week’s talks between Indonesia and Australia. Australia accepts refugees from all over the world, like many other “first-world” nations, but the current lack of legal definition or real process for people illegally crossing into Australia is not right.
Australia’s defense minister Stephen Smith has said his talks in Bali will not focus on asylum-seekers, but they should. The country’s foreign affairs minister Bob Carr and other officials meeting in Bali at the same time will focus on human trafficking and smuggling.
It is ridiculous to think these two meetings both occuring at the same time and place cannot and should not be connected. The defense and foreign ministry of Australia needs to work with each other and with other countries to create a plan to address the many lives lost when asylum-seekers crossing danferous waters in hopes of finding a better life.