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Article In The Australian On Sri Lankan Refugees

Sri Lanka is in the Australian news all of a sudden.

A boat intercepted a few Afghan refugees a week or so ago and while making its way back to shore with the refugees on board, the boat exploded. No one knows why it did so just yet though Colin Barnett has decided that it must be the refugees who are responsible (yeah, right? They want to escape to another country therefore they commit suicide?).

So with the backlash that Colin Barnett has received and the issue of refugees and border control in the spotlight recently, the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia (partially galvanised by the idea that the civil war may just be at an end – again, I am a bit cynical about that) has found that the media wants to talk to them.

Hence this article in the Australian on 20th April 2009 by Paul Maley that discusses Sri Lankan refugees and also how problematic it might be to distinguish genuine refugees fleeing from persecution from those who fleeing because of economic hardship.

So my question is then: is economic hardship especially in terms of the global financial crisis, a genuine reason for claiming refugee status? What if you cannot get a job, cannot improve your skills and cannot rely on government welfare to survive? I think this is a point someone should make to Mr. Mohamud from the International Organisation for Migration.

Basically I want to know why Paul Maley did not think of asking this question and why he only saw fit to talk to Mr. Mohamud about this topic and news story when there would be other opinions to be sourced from other international agencies and organisations that keep track of data on refugees. Why has he not asked the Australian government’s Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of Immigration as to what take they have on this issue? He only has facts and figures from the Department of Immigration but no statements.

There were several more questions that could have been asked, so why were they not?

– Marisa Wikramanayake

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

2 Comments

  • s

    It is a worthwhile question to ask, if your target audience does not know the basics of what a refugee is.

    I assume readers of the Australian would be more educated and won’t need this question answered. There is something called over explaining, that can detract from the key points in the article.

  • Marisa

    Hi S,

    I think I answered this before in another post, but thanks for posting here as well.

    I thought there were more questions and other angles to pursue. Not over explaining but rather bringing up the idea of redefining concepts and when should one do so and so on.

    Perhaps you are right and there was no place in the article for it but my opinion is that even without that, there was more that he could have done.

    Again, thanks for posting, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and let me know what you think.

    Cheers, Marisa.

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