Malaysia’s traffickers prey on refugees

Tom Allard; 4/6/09; (2 Items)

Rameshwaren, a young Tamil asylum-seeker from Sri Lanka, speaks quietly, with a painful melancholy that belies his years. “I feel castrated,” he says, looking up from the floor. “All of this is unbearable. I am on the edge of a mental breakdown.” One of an estimated 100,000 refugees living precariously in Malaysia, and one of 16 million recognised asylum seekers worldwide, Rameshwaren’s helplessness is a frustration felt around the world. Just one of every 250 people who have been forced to flee their countries because of war, famine and persecution can expect to be resettled as a refugee this year. And this is why, he says, he is prepared to chance his arm and take a boat to Australia.


Australia cuts a poor figure on refugees
Mark Davis; 4/6/09
In the 1920s Dr Dolittle stories, the pushmi-pullyu was the rarest animal of all, having no tail but a head on each end of its torso. As long as both its heads worked in tandem, pushing and pulling together, predators could not sneak up from the rear and the pushmi-pullyu could nap while still looking out for danger. Yet it got into trouble when one head ignored the other and it tried to run off in different directions. The asylum seeker policy debate at the moment is a kind of pushmi-pullyu. The number of people seeking refuge in Australia is influenced by forces both pushing and pulling the flows of asylum seekers around the world. The forces pushing refugees are the violent conflicts, oppression and poverty that prompt people to flee their countries in the first place. The pull factors are the economic, social, political and geographic conditions that influence those people in their choice of a destination country. And policy runs into trouble if politicians deny the existence of one or the other of the dual forces.