Church demands end to refugee crisis amid deal doubt

Photo from Nauru Centre protestThe Uniting Church is calling for asylum seekers to be brought to Australia immediately in the wake of the uncertainty and furore created by Donald’s Trump’s stated disgust over a deal to resettle them in the US.

In an open statement the Refugee Council of Australia says the situation of asylum seekers being kept on Manus and Nauru islands “has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken”.

“With the US resettlement deal in serious doubt, the most obvious and humane solution is to clear the camps and bring these people to Australia until a safe, long-term, appropriate outcome for them can be guaranteed,” the statement, signed by the Uniting Church and other refugee advocates, reads.

“We do not have years. Australia cannot allow another person to die or suffer because of our negligence.

“This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety. “

Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis said that the offshore detention regime remains unacceptable.

“Whatever is happening politically, as a Church we remain committed to ending the practice of mandatory offshore detention, and seeking permanent resettlement solutions for all those held offshore,” Ms Hollis said.

“Our commitment to ongoing campaigning is a sign of our hope that fair and humane solutions will be achieved.”

The deal, negotiated by the previous Obama administration, for the US to take 1250 asylum seekers reportedly prompted an angry response from Trump during an abruptly terminated phone call with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Trump later tweeted that it was a “dumb deal” that he “would study carefully”.

He also told a prayer breakfast that the deal was an example of allies “taking advantage of America” and that “we have a problem”.

“For whatever reason Obama said that they were going to take probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons and they were going to bring them and take them into this country and ‘I said why?’, “Trump told the gathering.

“I just wanted to ask a question of you – why? 1250… it could be 2000 it could be more than that.

“I said ‘why, why are we doing this? What is the purpose?’ So we will see what happens.”

Despite Trump’s statements and twitter post, US administration officials have said the deal will go ahead with the proviso that the asylum seekers will be subject to “extreme vetting”.

 

Text of Refugee Council of Australia Open Statement

We, as a coalition of organisations and community groups from around Australia, are writing to express our concern regarding the humanitarian crisis that Australia has created.

Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly Australia’s responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken.

Beyond the reports of physical and sexual abuse, including of children; inadequate medical attention; suicides and attempted suicides; even a murder; the extinguishment of hope has pushed people to the edge.

Many of these people have been recognised as refugees. We owe them protection and safety now.

Meanwhile, politicians are spending years engaged in lengthy negotiations as to the fate of these men, women and children. With the US resettlement deal in serious doubt, the most obvious and humane solution is to clear the camps and bring these people to Australia until a safe long term, appropriate outcome for them can be guaranteed.

We do not have years. Australia cannot allow another person to die or suffer because of our actions.

This is a crisis. We are calling on both major parties to form a bipartisan commitment to immediately evacuate the camps and bring these people to safety.

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