Tag Archives: Boat People

Australia’s Clarke and Dawe on “Boat Stopping Devices” and Offshore Refugee Processing (satire)

If you have 2 ½ minutes to spare, this is a humorous comment on the current very bad situation in Australia.  Click here for video.

(I saw this on the Migration Law listserv.)

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Filed under Australia, Indian Ocean, Statements

94% Approval Rate for Refugee Status Claims Made by People Arriving by Boat in Australia

According to an article in The Australian, “the Immigration Department approved 94 per cent of all refugee status claims from people arriving illegally by boat, after initial assessments and independent merits reviews, between October 2008 and December 22 last year.  In stark contrast, the department approved only 39 per cent of protection visa requests for non-boat arrivals in the first half of this financial year…”  “South Australian independent MP Bob Such, who lodged the [Freedom of Information] request [which resulted in the release of the data], said the high number of successful refugee claims by people arriving by boat showed the federal government’s detention policies were ‘flawed’. ‘Not only is the current policy costly and harmful to their mental state, it’s costly to Australia,’ Dr Such said. ‘They’re spending hundreds of millions . . . on detaining people who are no threat at all.’…”

Click here for full article.

(As reported in the Human Rights Law Resource Centre (Australia) Human Rights News Stories for the week ending 25 February 2011.)


Filed under Australia, Data / Stats, Indian Ocean, News

Erika Feller’s Comments Regarding Boat People and Irregular Secondary Movements

During her annual address to the UNHCR’s Executive Committee on 6 October, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Erika Feller reviewed significant protection issues over the past year, noting also that 2010 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the UNHCR in December 1950 and the 59th anniversary of the Refugee Convention.

Among the topics she addressed were the challenges posed by the arrival of irregular secondary movements of migrants, including boat people.  She is critical of interdiction practices being carried out throughout the world and makes the strong point that “[t]he evidence suggests that tough sea policies have not solved, just changed and indeed complicated the dynamics, of irregular movements.”  While Ms. Feller does not identify countries by name, she is apparently referencing increased maritime interdiction in the Aegean Sea and the resulting surge in irregular crossings along Greece’s land borders.  The point could also be made in regard to the Italian push-back practice.

Excerpts from her address:

“Arrivals of undocumented migrants continue to test the capacity of States, with the problem of so-called “irregular secondary movement” exacerbated in recent years by boat arrivals. The Pacific, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean or the Gulf of Aden are all regular theatres, with ‘boatpeople’ being interdicted, intercepted, turned around, ignored by passing ships, shot at, or denied landing. Even when rescued, disembarkation somewhere has no guarantees attached, as an incident currently playing out off the Somalia/Djibouti coasts starkly reminds us.

All this is seriously at odds not only with protection principles but also with the reality that when they manage to gain access to territory and asylum processes, a large percentage of asylum-seekers who come by boat are actually found to be refugees. …

Boat arrivals can provoke fears and high emotions which may be difficult for Governments to manage. However, in our experience, an approach built predominantly around closing borders and trying to prevent movement is not the answer, as it does not work. In fact it can make situations even more difficult to deal with. Developments in relation to one country that has pursued a tough policy towards boats are actually quite revealing. While arrivals by sea are dramatically down, arrivals by land have basically doubled. In addition, while sea arrivals had been able to be concentrated through being channeled to one main reception point, land arrivals now come through multiple crossing points and have been able to disperse more effectively and rapidly through the community, below any radar screen. The evidence suggests that tough sea policies have not solved, just changed and indeed complicated the dynamics, of irregular movements….

The phenomenon of refugees on the move for non-protection reasons is also growing. Numbers and categories vary with the regions but the concern is global. On the African continent, where camps are more the norm than the exception, it is preoccupying that camp environments are starting to be compromised by a form of transit migration to and through them, with refugees, and others, seeking to use their facilities for R&R en route to a more distant destination. Just as concerning has been the misuse of reception centers as way-stations, or even lucrative recruitment opportunities for smugglers and traffickers. These facts are not a rationale for abandoning camps or centers. They are, though, a solid reason to rethink how better to manage them within a burden sharing framework….”

Click here for full address.


Filed under Aegean Sea, European Union, Greece, Italy, Libya, Mediterranean, News, Statements, UNHCR

Side Meeting on Boat People at Upcoming UNHCR-NGO Consultations

The annual UNHCR-NGO consultations will take place beginning 29 June (registration is closed).  Various side-meetings will also be held, including one on 1 July: “A hearing on Boat People: Different people, different needs and rights to protection.” Palais des Nations, Geneva, 13h15 – 14h45, Room XXII

“A hearing on Boat People: Different people, different needs and rights to protection.

Brief description: What are the needs of today’s boat people—and how can these needs be differentiated and matched to rights and practical responses of protection and assistance—among boat people arriving in Europe or Yemen from Africa; in the US from Haiti; in various parts of south and southeast Asia and Australia from Burma or Sri Lanka, or following other sea crossings? This session is organized as a hearing, not a series of presentations. It will begin with a brief introduction of the importance of differentiating needs and rights to protection and assistance among all the people arriving, (i.e., refugees, victims of human trafficking and smuggling, victims of torture, children, etc.) Conclusions from an experts roundtable in Tunis last year will then be offered as a reference, which participants will be invited to comment upon and at the end of the session, consider supporting. During the bulk of the session however, panelists from UNHCR, IOM, IFRC and UNODC will serve as a hearing board: listening, probing and recording the experience, concrete practices and recommendations of NGO participants who respond to boat people, either in Europe or in other parts of the world. Input will then be organized and submitted to the international organizations and to government policy makers, including the European Union and Council of Europe through the new EU-funded NGO partnership “DRIVE” (Differentiation for Refugee Identification and Vulnerability Evaluation).”

Click here for full Side Meeting agenda.

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Filed under Colloques / Conferences, UNHCR