10 September 2019

Eurobodalla refugee action on the streets in Gilmore

| Ian Campbell
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Some of those who gathered in front of the Member for Gilmore's Nowra electorate office on Thursday. Photo: RAC Eurobodalla.

Some of those who gathered in front of the Member for Gilmore’s Nowra electorate office on Thursday. Photo: RAC Eurobodalla.

The Eurobodalla Refugee Action Collective has taken part in a national day of action to mark the fifth anniversary of the Australian Government’s resettlement ban and the reopening of offshore detention centres.

RAC Eurobodalla along with concerned Shoalhaven residents gathered for a rally at the front door of Ann Sudmalis’ Gilmore electorate office in Nowra.

“July 19 marks the fifth anniversary of the announcement by then PM Kevin Rudd that “As of today, asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia” and the recommencement of offshore detention,” RAC Eurobodalla spokesperson, Bernie Richards says.

The action called on all political parties to end the detention of men, women, and children in the offshore camps, and ensure their resettlement in places of safety.

“Five years on 939 people, including 137 children are still detained on Nauru and 698 men remain in PNG. Some of these people, including 22 children are still living in the mouldy tents on Nauru,” Ms Richards says.

“Twelve people have died as a result of medical neglect and desperation. Hundreds of others have been damaged mentally and physically by the deliberately cruel and demoralising conditions in indefinite detention.

“There is no clear path to safe resettlement for these people, most of whom are have been recognised as bona fide refugees, ” she says.

In the nearly two years since the USA-Australia transfer deal was signed, 262 people have been resettled (page 111 of Senate Estimates, May 21 2018) to the United States.

For those that remain, Ms Richards says, “Neither PNG nor Nauru can offer viable resettlement options.”

“Following a $55 million payment, 7 people went to Cambodia and only 3 remain there. This failed program will formally cease at the end of 2018.

“Under the original Pacific Solution between 2001 and 2008, 1153 refugees were resettled from Manus Island and Nauru,” Ms Richards says.

“Of these, 35% went to New Zealand, 5% to other developed countries and 70% to Australia.

“Where has our humanity gone?” Our country was once respected for our fair treatment of refugees seeking safety,” Ms Richards says.

One of the flyers handed out to passers-by at the Nowra rally. Photo: RAC Eurobodalla.

One of the flyers handed out to passers-by at the Nowra rally. Photo: RAC Eurobodalla.

This week’s rally in Nowra called on all Australian political parties to urgently address the issue by ensuring that those who are not offered resettlement in the USA are resettled in New Zealand or Australia.

About Regional approached the Liberal Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis and the Member for Eden-Monaro, Labor’s, Mike Kelly for comment. Dr Kelly declined, Ms Sudmalis did not respond.

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