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Old 04-06-2003, 02:43 PM   #1
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Y'know how 1000 posts = refugee status? Well, that's got me thinking about refugees, asylum seekers, asylum rights in Western countries etc. So I thought I'd just post a few links on the subject because it's something we're not hearing a huge amount about right now because of people's pre-occupation with the attack on Iraq.

To start with, how many people are aware that there are almost 20 million refugees or internally displaced people in the world? Have a look at UNHCR's (UN High Commissioner for Refugees) webpage on this subject here.

Those of us living in Europe are probably used to hearing our government's scaremongering about refugees. They tell us we're being "flooded" with asylum seekers. If you're British, you've heared Blunkett telling you that GPs surgeries are being "swamped" by asylum seekers and you've heard the government threatening to withdraw from international human rights legislation in order to avoid its obligation to refugees. All of that is absolute NONSENSE: Less than 2% of all the refugees in the world ever come to Western Europe. The vast majority stay either in their home country, or flee to impoverished countries bordering it. Western Europe doesn't have a "problem" with refugees, we have government's who are unwilling to protect and provide for some of the most vulnerable people in the world, those who are fleeing from the threat of torture, persecution and war.

On the subject of what life is like for refugees in most countries, have a look at this site: USA for UNHCR and read the journals by Angelina Jolie who is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and has travelled to refugee camps in many countries around the world. Reading her account of what life is like for refugees in Africa, in Pakistan and in South America is just heartbreaking in places but its so worthwhile reading it because it opens people's eyes to the reality of life in refugee camps.

And finally, have a look at UNHCR's website for more general information about refugees and asylum seekers. Anyway, I'll stop boring you all now, I hope some people find those links interesting.

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Old 04-06-2003, 03:14 PM   #2
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My room is dark, and very small.
There is a place to wash at the end of the hall.
I here strange languages trough the wall.
I hear them shouting in the street below.
I listen now to anything, anything at all.
Just to keep the ghost away, not to let them come.

Lusala, she was the first to hit the ground.
Running up the hill at the side of the house.
One by one, in the screaming sun, my family fell.
The air alive with bullets, and the smell of fear.
Don`t look back, don`t look back, don`t look back at all.
Their bloodied faces are here with me, now, in the room.
Until the lights go out and the silence comes.
Don`t fall asleep, don`t fall asleep, just keep running.
Keep running, keep running, run, run, run.

Refugee by New Model Army. 1999.

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Old 04-06-2003, 03:36 PM   #3
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Actually, at the beginning of this war, there was a huge focus on the safety of refugees (in the U.S media at least).

We don't really get floods of refugees here, but we were prepared to provide for them in the Middle East.

However, there weren't as many as we had anticipated, and so the topic was pushed aside.

I didn't know there were so many refugees elsewhere though, good facts.
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Old 04-13-2003, 09:19 AM   #4
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Good to see the British government being as generous as usual about refugees. This article is from today's Observer. (,00.html)

Tens of thousands of Iraqi asylum seekers in Britain are to be offered voluntary repatriation packages including a payment of up to 3,000 per family if they return home once the position in the country has stabilised.
Home Office officials are working on a fast-track procedure to allow people who were granted refugee status while Saddam was in power to go back to Iraq. Those who refuse will eventually face enforced repatriation.

The plans will mirror the Government's policy on Afghan refugees who last year were offered 2,500 per family or 600 for individuals to help them return once the military campaign against the Taliban had ended.

Later this month the Home Office will announce that the first 50 Afghan asylum seekers are to be forcibly removed. Officials said that the Government would charter its own plane to take the asylum seekers to Kabul.

The Government said it would stick to its plans despite increased tension in Afghanistan. Last week Amnesty International said that the situation in the country was deteriorating and highlighted the need for an investigation in the deaths of 11 civilians killed in the east of the country.

US military forces are still based in Kabul, attempting to keep warring factions apart and support the nascent Afghan government led by Hamid Karzai.

The Home Office hopes that the removal of asylum seekers to countries no longer deemed to be a risk to their civilians will increase the chances of meeting the target, imposed by the Prime Minister, that the number of asylum applications received by Britain would be halved by September.

There were more than 19,000 asylum applications from Iraq last year, the highest number from any country. That figure had increased sharply from a few hundred in the early 1990s.

Many are middle class exiles with skills in medicine, teaching and business.

'We will deal with this fairly and equitably,' said one Whitehall source. 'Once the position in the country stabilises we are sure that many of the Iraqi people here will want to return home. We will help them do that.'

The largest group of Iraqis in Britain are Kurds from the north of the country. The Home Office has already decided that Iraqi Kurdistan is a safe haven for refugees and, in theory, those who do not have the right to remain in this country could be returned immediately.

But until now, the Government has failed to find a safe route of return. It is now thought to be seeking guarantees from neighbouring Turkey for safe transit through the Kurdish south- east of the country.

Burhan Fatah of the Federation of Iraqi Refugees said the Government had stopped processing the applications of Iraqi asylum seekers before the war in preparation for their return: 'In the Kurdish restaurants around London, it is all people are talking about. People shout things like, "Go home! Your country is safe now! Get out of ours."'
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