Tuesday, January 30, 2007

UNHCR warns that failed asylum seekers should not be returned

AI reports that "earlier this month the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) urged countries not to deport rejected Iraqi asylum seekers, stating that they faced targeted killings and worsening bloodshed in their homeland.

The security situation in Iraq, where more than 20,000 people were reportedly killed in 2006, has deteriorated in the past 16 months. Aid workers in the area warn of a refugee crisis as more and more countries close their doors on fleeing Iraqis.

We know from the work of David Corlett and others that asylum seekers forcibly repatriated have been put in harm's way by our government. Given Australia's responsibility for the Iraq war as a member of the 'coalition of the willing', protection of Iraqi refugees is a moral imperative. This country must not continue down the path of sacrificing our reputation as an upholder of refugee rights to serve the political ends of a 'fear' wedge. We are all demeaned in the process.

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