The Australian government should commit to resettling the survivors of the Java boat tragedy once they have found by the UNHCR to be refugees in genuine need of protection, the Greens said today.
"The UNHCR has said they are ready to help in assessing the protection claims of survivors and try finding a safe country for those found to be refugees," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.
"Australia should do what we can to assist them.
"These fragile people include orphaned children and the last thing we want is for them to be languishing indefinitely in Indonesian detention centres while they wait to be sent to a third country.
"Surely this is one thing our political leaders can agree on: if found to be refugees, these fellow human beings who have already been through so much should be brought to Australia and helped to rebuild their lives. Australia has room for them.
"We need a humanitarian response to the tragedy, and this is a commonsense way of offering support and care.
"In the wake of this tragedy and the increasing need for refugee protection in our region, Australia must step up as leader in our region to form a regional protection response. The Fraser government demonstrated this in cooperation with the UNHCR when people took to boats to flee conflicts in Indochina.
"Helping people find safety in a managed way and increasing UNHCR assessments in home and transit countries with a commitment to resettling those found to be refugees has been done before. We can do it again.
"People seeking asylum are fleeing from danger in their home countries like Afghanistan, Iran or Syria. Until their countries are safe, they will continue to come. Telling them to go away simply won't work. We need a humane, practical and long-term response to this humanitarian issue. The ‘quick-fix' of Labor and the Coalition's off-shore assessment policy doesn't offer this.
"Instead of bickering, the government and opposition should accept that people who risk everything to flee persecution will keep running until they feel safe. It's pointless to try telling something their life is not at risk when they feel it is and are taking every step they can to save it."