Last week I visited the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab in northern Kenya, home to almost 450,000 Somali refugees.

Odd man out

I also visited the Yida refugee camp in northern South Sudan which has 60,000 Sudanese inhabitants fleeing from the conflict in South Kordofan, Sudan.

My expectations of an African refugee camp were shaped by the images on our TV screens of skeletal starvation and desperately malnourished kids.

At both Dadaab in 2011 and Yida in 2012 there were scenes of such horror. But now the immediacy of these crises has passed and life has stabilised.

My first reaction to the camps was not their condition, but rather the incredible logistical task which is the provision of refuge. Standing among those queuing for food on a regular Tuesday morning in Dadaab is to witness human orchestration on a grand scale. In a given month 450,000 people are provided with rations twice.

On this particular day it was the turn of family sizes of two and ten people to take their ration. With sacks and plastic containers one person per family worked their way down the line of different products which are carefully chosen to provide 2,100 calories per person per day: the minimum average requirement to sustain a healthy life. The process can take anywhere from twenty minutes to four hours depending on the crowd.

The refugees progressed through the centre with patience and good humour. In Yida the large queues of colourfully dressed women with kids in tow created a scene of genuine beauty. No-one would want to be there. The food provided was basic and minimal. But life was being sustained. This was a refuge.

In Dadaab safety was a serious concern. In recent months the Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab were involved in abducting aid workers, using improvised explosive devices to attack Kenyan soldiers and systematically raping refugees in an appalling exercise of brutal power.

The result has left the UN compound behind large sandbag walls, with aid workers being transported in armoured vehicles and a camp population tired with fear. The camp remains safer than Somalia but for some the question is in the balance.

Even though it was just 15km from a conflict zone Yida was safer but the pressing issue there was disease. Yida is situated in the South Sudan Sudd which for seven months of the year is the largest swamp in the world. Malaria is endemic. Basic water and sanitation gives rise to much digestive disease. Acute watery diarrhoea has been the biggest cause of death.

At both camps we lunched with aid workers and listened to their stories. In Yida I met Brock Kreitzburg from Akron, Ohio, who was working with an American NGO, Samaritan’s Purse. Brock had represented the US in the 2006 winter Olympics and had played professional gridiron as a wide receiver. As an elite athlete, he had necessarily invested wholly in himself. Now he was devoted to investing in the lives of others. For Brock, faith was an important motivator.

In Yida the aid workers came from many places: the US and France, Mongolia and Australia. They lived in tents. Their toilets were pits. Their food was basic. As the refugees became sick so did they.

One woman had had malaria six times in six months.

All the aid workers described an existence where they never felt 100%. But their camaraderie pulsated. Their sense of reward shone bright. In the harshest of circumstances these were the most remarkable of people.

Amidst all that was difficult and much that was sad, these camps contained hope.

In Yida, out of nowhere, had sprung a market. It was run by and for the refugees. The spirit of human enterprise had produced butchers, fruiterers, tailors, mechanics and many general stores. The market buzzed with a radiant life force.

And in Dadaab we visited one of the many schools in the camp. Kids were lined up in their uniforms. Girls giggled shyly. Boys brashly pushed forward to present themselves with a grin. Laughter and excitement were the predominant expression.

Their teacher had grown up in this very camp, completed his schooling, and graduated from a Kenyan teachers college. He was a young man, with skills, whose dream was to return to Somalia to use them. From this refugee camp a vibrant life had emerged – one of many.

A visit to these camps puts pay to any cynicism about the UN and its agencies such as the World Food Programme and the UNHCR. Australia’s aid contributes significantly to their work. It is genuinely humanitarian. It really matters.

Being a member of the global community has provided Australia with great prosperity. The role we are playing in African refugee camps is the least we can do in return.

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    • Gregg says:

      06:03am | 31/01/13

      There’s no doubt Richard that many people in refugee camps in many locations could be supported and given the life on the edge existence, the more support the better.
      This has been known of for decades without us even leaving Australia.

      In comparison we look at what the Labor government has allowed to develop with those people who would rather attempt a trip to Australia courtesy of people smugglers and the costs involved, costs to Australian taxpayers, even the cost of your trip!

      If that cost and services were contributed to the UNHCR, life would no doubt be a little easier for many and it could even be that some funds could be provided to help with security and safety in camps like Dadaab.

      Are you investigating the possibility of people using people smugglers being sent to a UNHCR refugee camp along with better funding.
      It could even be a possibility that some of those people may have skills that could be put to use within a refugee camp and that perhaps even form part of recognition when selection for resettlement occurs.

      It would have to be better all around, for the UNHCR, the refugees, Australia and even those using people smugglers who had a genuine need though I would not be too surprised numbers of the latter suddenly diminished.

    • Nathan says:

      08:00am | 31/01/13

      “Are you investigating the possibility of people using people smugglers being sent to a UNHCR refugee camp along with better funding”

      Are you serious? You want to take our problem and send them to Africa or where ever? And you think the UN would ever ever allow this, it goes against everything the UN is about, considering its their agency. These are emergency camps what are you thinking or are you at all?

    • Borderer says:

      09:14am | 31/01/13

      I thought of something like that, people entering Australia to claim asylum should be put in a refugee camp, be it in Australia, Nauru, whatever but never ever allowed residency in Australia unless they are fleeing from neigbouring countries like Indonesia, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands etc. (which I hasten to point out are not areas of major conflict, though NZ is a worry when the rugby is on…).
      Remove the incentive to come here illegally, they get the asylum they want, just not allowed to country shop, they just get included in the UNHCR program with everyone else and have to apply rather than just turn up.

    • Gregg says:

      10:09am | 31/01/13

      Exactly Borderer,
      And Nathan,
      Something needs to be done to get away from what the current government has encouraged and still now encourages even more with rapid transit through being detained and into the community for some.
      Of course, that alone will have the many being detained on Xmas Island, in Nauru or on PNG claiming discrimination or whatever, just another complication to what is a mess.

      There will need to be a much firmer approach adopted than now for the message to get through and to remove the product the people smugglers market.
      The numbers we have had coming in months prior to the monsoon season will make it far more difficult and likely much longer for a return to the full pacific solution to have an impact in reducing people smuggling and meanwhile we are creating a new class of permanent welfare recipients.

      As to what the UN would allow, the UNHCR is all about protecting people and there are huge costs involved not to mention often famines and difficulties in getting food through to where it is needed.
      There is no equity in Australia forking out a $100,000 p.a per head for irregular arrivals here when the same ammount could likely support a thousand people in dire need.

      As I’ve said, some of those arriving courtesy of the people smugglers may have skills able to be put to good use in a refugee camp, so that would be a bonus and it does not take too much snse to see that this is something Australian politicians should be pursuing, particularly now we have a security council seat.

      The camp at Dadaab is a city or home to at least 450,00 people according to Richard and he tells of one person who grew up there:
      ” Their teacher had grown up in this very camp, completed his schooling, and graduated from a Kenyan teachers college. He was a young man, with skills, whose dream was to return to Somalia to use them. From this refugee camp a vibrant life had emerged – one of many. “
      Hardly what you might call an emergency camp and more something that will eventually become a city, a bit like Ramallah on the West Bank.

      There is an international issue of some 40M+ refugees and internally displaced people and it is time to think internationally even if some people do have trouble with that.

    • simonfromlakemba says:

      02:08pm | 31/01/13

      I put a solution to the problem up here a little while ago.

      * Process the asylum seekers in Nauru, with say a limit of 1 yr, they will be placed into the community. They learn English, computers, how things are done here etc

      * Set up a refugee job agency where they can go and get basic jobs - cleaners, hospitals, taxi drivers, hospitality.

      * For 5 years they go on a Refugee Visa where they have to attend English classes, failure to do so will be a reason for cancellation of Visa.

      * For 5 yrs Aus Gov pays say 30% of their rent towards a property to help them out.

      * Once on the 5 years visa they cannot get arrested and found guilty of an offence which carries a jail sentence, be unemployed for longer then 6 months.

      * After 5 years is over they can bring family over again on the same 5 year Visa, if one of their family members gets into trouble they will be liable for them as they will be the sponsors.

      * At the end of the 5 year Visa Aus Gov sends them a bill for services - English classes, job recruitment, rent assistance etc, same as a HECS debt

      Basically by the end of all that you would have a pretty good bunch of refugees/immigrants etc.

    • Bob says:

      03:08pm | 31/01/13

      Simon - I quite like that, barring some minor moral qualms about the guilt by association thing. Not saying that it’s a bad idea, more that I subscribe to a more individualistic notion of wrongdoing (if a relative of mine is a criminal that doesn’t make me one, etc).

      There is one more thing I would quibble. Can a ‘genuine refugee’ afford to leave their family in a dangerous country for 5 years? Writing that in there I can’t help but assume such a stipulation is more intended for economic refugees than those usually given the title by way of Convention.

    • Samson says:

      05:15pm | 31/01/13

      @ Simon - why can’t they be found guilty of an offence that carries a jail term? If they’ve done the crime? Would you not just cancel their visa??

    • Pisces says:

      06:04pm | 31/01/13


      How many are here to be contributing members of society?

      Try taking a walk through some northern suburbs and see all the men sitting with their ilk in cafes and/or escorting their wives to do shopping (god forbid their women go out unchaperoned!).

      I ‘feel’ that they are here because of our wonderful welfare system. After all, where else on earth can they sit around all day, pray 5 times a day, breed like rabbits - and get everything handed on the proverbial… God help us if we complain as to do so is the ultimate in racism’

      I think that your points are what is generally wrong with Australia: the cradle to the gave mentality.

      How about they go through the right channels and prove why they should be accepted. An IELTS score of at least 4 - to be followed by their 500 FREE English lessons on their arrivals. If they don’t have a tax-paying job at the end of 12 months sees them shipped back ‘home’.

      As for our home-grown lazy feral un-employed breeders….don’t get me started!

    • gof says:

      06:34am | 31/01/13

      At first quick glance I thought the white fella in the picture was Tony Abbott on another opportunistic photo shoot. Then I realised that the indigenous folk in the image were not Australian so political leverage in providing his aid there.

    • gof says:

      06:40am | 31/01/13

      “Lessons from the largest refugee camp in the world”
      Would that camp be the NLP supporters camp? If so, I doubt they have learnt any lesson yet!

    • marley says:

      07:45am | 31/01/13

      @gof - oh, you’re really a class act.  A good, interesting (and non partisan) article about a serious issue, and you turn it into a couple of semi-literate anti-Abbott, anti Coalition jokes.  Class, all right - and all of it low.

    • gof says:

      09:22am | 31/01/13

      “@gof - oh, you’re really a class act”
      Why thank you!
      Aww, get a sense of humor #marley, not easy for a canuck as we all know, but achievable nonetheless.

      Africa fucked itself up a long, long time ago, it’s not our problem and the only thing that can help the African nations is a serious outbreak of Ebola of something of the like. Not nice I know, but it’s the truth and there is nothing we or the UN can do about it, no matter how much money or resources you throw at it, it is so broken you can’t fix it. All your bleeding heart does is takes from Australian mouths to try and feed useless causes on some desolate foreign soil where even their own governments don’t care about them! Harsh, have your scream, get over it.

    • Jaqui says:

      10:03am | 31/01/13

      @gof: “Africa fucked itself up a long” actually no, it was leftist scum like you who stood up and decided that colonisation was bad and that the people needed self rule. In fact it was partially our own lefties here in Australia that had direct involvement in placing some of the worst despots into power in parts of Africa.

      There are people to blame, leftists.

    • Bob says:

      10:42am | 31/01/13

      Yeah, pretty much gof. Every other day there’s a new tragedy on that continent, and it’s wearing a little thin that it’s all the fault of colonialism.

      Christ sake, Korea was a Japanese colony for years under pretty harsh rule, went through a civil war much bloodier and larger scale than you’ve seen in Africa, and now we’re buying cars and computers made in Seoul.

      At a point, Africa has just got to own it’s problems.

    • gof says:

      11:36am | 31/01/13

      #Jaqui ,
      So you condone rightist methods like invade, destroy, take anything of value and leave when it is no longer profitable? Nice, as I said Africa was screwed a long time ago, most tribal communities were.
      Colonisation did one good thing for Africa, it created a slave base for the white capitalists.

    • Jaqui says:

      01:30pm | 31/01/13

      @gof: In your opinion, unfortunately for you the facts are so far removed from your distorted leftist vision of reality that its not worth even asking you to back up your pathetic bullshit with evidence. It is quite obvious it is coming from a leftist, this is the style of the left.
      “Look how bad those righties are, I mean bringing civilisation, medicine, clean water, electricity and a better quality of life to the African people..  Whoops was that another million people I killed off under communism, don’t look over here.”

    • Pisces says:

      07:15am | 31/01/13

      Where do all the mega millions of dollars donated by generous people (and governments) go to? All these Agencies are meant to help third countries but people still starve and die while aide agencies get richer.

      Mmmm, curiouser and curiouser!

    • marley says:

      08:29am | 31/01/13

      Read the article again.  Food for 450,000 people doesn’t come cheap.

    • Pisces says:

      09:56am | 31/01/13


      Weapons don’t come cheaply either and corrupt politicians’ pockets are very deep indeed.

    • MK says:

      11:56am | 31/01/13

      the mega millions is really not that much,
      Even without corruption
      if we spend 0.3% of our money on the poor hordes, who outnumber our rich sleves many times over
      and spend 99.7% on ourselves

      Should we be surprised when the gap gets larger?

      I don’t care how many billions that 0.3% is

    • Sloan says:

      07:18am | 31/01/13

      I think the first lesson to take away from seeing these camps is that you can not allow population growth to increase beyond the carrying capacity of the nation.

    • Neil says:

      08:48am | 31/01/13

      +1. As far as I know Africans take great pride in having as many babies as possible to show off their fertility.

      Madness. The west should be demanding that the rest of the world stops breeding like flies. But first we must get rid of the deranged influences from both the left and right in our own countries that see human life as sacred so that we can develop a proper plan and a humane message regarding overpopulation and how to end it.

    • fml says:

      11:10am | 31/01/13

      These people are running from food shortages which are a result of war. It is dishonest to credit these camps to population and not the war.

      It makes sense that food production stalls when there is civil unrest.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      08:15am | 31/01/13

      Richard - Your aid agencies are not in control of these camps. The militant groups who have caused this crisis are.

      Read Emmanuel Jal’s incredible book Warchild, or talk to people from these camps who are in Australia. The ones I met talked openly about cheating the system for extra food rations (which meant other people had to die), or even stealing from the very young or the very old to survive. In effect, killing them.

      Those nice little markets that have been set up, are fronts for militant groups.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:15am | 31/01/13

      ‘Being a member of the global community has provided Australia with great prosperity. The role we are playing in African refugee camps is the least we can do in return.”

      Firstly, don’t get me wrong, because providing aid to overseas refugee camps is a vital and responsible act to perform for the greater stability of the world (and takes the burden of a human influx away from Australia and the EU).

      BUT that above line is horribly disingeneous, if not an outright dishonest lie.
      The only prosperity Australia has enjoyed is direct interraction with countries that don’t recieve aid ( by trade, and cooperation in countering terrorism and crime).
      Most countries that recieve our aid are actually the ones that have not contributed one iota to the prosperity of Australia NOR the majority of countries that have helped Australia prosper economically.

      So the ‘repayment’ concept is nonsense.
      So again, we should WANT to donate to these camps for the sake of world stability.

    • Sam says:

      09:28am | 31/01/13

      Thanks Richard, sensitively written. And thanks to those who are practicing the art and imperfect science of managing refugee camps. For years. From my comfortable Australian life,  I am perfectly content for my tax dollars to be contributed in a coordinated, albeit imperfect, way. Quite sure I couldn’t do any better myself.

    • Wakey Wakey says:

      10:25am | 31/01/13

      Good article Richard,  that highlights the good work of the UN in appalling conditions, and the importance of our foreign aid support.  If we do not collectively assist, then we are individually less human.  We cannot be detractors while sitting comfortably before our obliging computers in our safe homes.

    • Me says:

      10:45am | 31/01/13

      Pretty sure that I can be a detractor sitting comfortably before my obliging computer in my safe home.

      Nothing to stop me doing so, nothing to compel me to pour money into African refugee camps, really no reason at all.

      We have problems here, once we’ve sorted our issues maybe then take a look at foreign drama.

    • gof says:

      10:35am | 31/01/13

      ” I am perfectly content for my tax dollars to be contributed in a coordinated, albeit imperfect, way.”

      I am not content for 1 of my tax dollars to be sent offshore to feelgood causes until there is no poverty in THIS country where YOU live. Fix it at home first, if there are any crumbs left over when our country if fed, sure fling them to a do gooders cause but not before. What is wrong with you people!

    • fml says:

      11:11am | 31/01/13

      What’s wrong with people donating money how they see fit?

      No one is forcing you to donate, you can help who you want.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      11:17am | 31/01/13

      Well the people at home got themselves into poverty, despite the ridiculous advantages of free health care of an extremely high standard, free welfare and housing if they don’t FEEL like working, FREE EDUCATION, and ridiculous benefits. Since we can’t seem to encourage our own “poor” to use the generous systems we have in place designed to help them, maybe we should turn our attention to people who have struggled against REAL poverty, and REAL hardship. Not “Oh I’m so disadvantaged I can only afford ONE CARTON of cigarettes this week.” Or “I’m so disadvantaged, I chose to take drugs and ruined my life, my family’s life, and the lives of people around me for shits and giggles and now I’m homeless, but it’s not my fault”.

      I am frankly sick and tired of the so-called “poor” in this country whining about aid being spent on people who both need it and deserve it far more than people who have squandered their lives and now are paying for it.

    • James1 says:

      11:20am | 31/01/13

      The poverty here is no comparison.  Poor people in this country get a good income by global standards - the average single mother with a part time job is in the top 2% of global income earners.  Poor people get free money, subsidised housing, free health care, subsidised medicine, free education up to year 12, deferred payment university educations, and subsidised public transport.  Not one person in Australia has starved to death as a result of having no money in the last 30 years.  And if they have, it is because they spent their dole on drugs which diminished their appetites.  Anyone who can collect a minimum of $400 a fortnight simply for existing is not poor by any robust standard.  The only reason we consider them poor is because of how we define poverty.  That definition pegs the poverty line to median incomes, and thus statistically speaking, there will always be a certain percentage who are classified as “poor”, despite all their material needs be met, and in most cases exceeded.

      Their needs are far less than those of people in refugee camps like in the story.  Personally, I am satisfied that the tax I pay is enough for Australia’s poor, given that they live so well by global standards.  I would rather anything I give on top of tax goes to someone who needs it to eat and live.

    • gof says:

      11:41am | 31/01/13

      #fml ,
      “What’s wrong with people donating money how they see fit?”
      My tax dollar is not a donation. After tax dollar is, please re read.

      #jade (the other one)
      Don’t generalise to much now, some may think you have a biased agenda.

    • Rose says:

      12:12pm | 31/01/13

      “Your” tax dollar ceases to be yours the second it hits treasury, then it is Australia’s money. Every few years you get to vote on who controls the spending from treasury, other than that, you can voice an opinion but that’s about it. Enough people voice the same opinion and maybe you’ll sway the government. All of us see government money spent in ways that we may not agree with, but that’s democracy.
      I for one am proud that Australia contributes to countries in need around the world and would be happy to see more of it!

    • fml says:

      12:15pm | 31/01/13


      If you can prove that your tax dollar is going towards Africa, by all means complain, you cannot claim ALL of australia’s tax and where it goes because you make a minor contribution.

      Please try again.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      01:26pm | 31/01/13

      @gof - They don’t live in poverty by choice in this country?

      Australia gives them FREE EDUCATION. If they choose NOT to take advantage of that, then they are making a choice to increase their likelihood of poverty.

      Australia gives them FREE HEALTH CARE. So there goes the possibility of bankruptcy due to a car accident.

      Australia gives them FREE MONEY to buy food and essentials, and pay rent. Plus RENT ASSISTANCE, PHONE ASSISTANCE, and other allowances. That they choose to spend it on non-essential items such as cigarettes, alcohol, or other luxuries is their choice to be poor.

      If they CHOOSE to take drugs, they are CHOOSING a life of homelessness, poverty, addiction, and all the rest that comes with it.

      And as James1 said, even when they are “poor”, they are not starving to death, except through their own choices. They are not freezing to death. They are not dying from easily preventable diseases, such as malaria, measles, polio, typhoid fever, dysentry, or the host of others that people in these camps often die from due to a complete lack of sanitation or drinking water. Hell, the homeless in this country get something which is a luxury item in most of the world - FREE PUBLIC TOILETS. Which they use to shoot up drugs, and lie in wait for people to mug to get more drugs.

      Even the guy in the article - sustained a brain injury from sniffing paint “Oh but I was abused!”. So were millions of other people in the first world who managed not to sniff paint, or commit crimes.

      Stop making excuses for the poor of this country, who are still wealthier and luckier than people in a majority of the world.

    • Bonestar says:

      01:37pm | 31/01/13

      gof, says that and defends the very government who created this very problem for Australia at any oppurtunity, what a very confused young lady she is.

    • LJ Dots says:

      01:40pm | 31/01/13

      @gof, I read the article you linked to and it really does not help your case, in fact it supports the comments above.

      ‘Harry’ has all his basic needs met and whatsmore, despite his relative poverty, he can still afford to smoke, something that even some working people have trouble finding the money for.

      From the article you linked to - ‘After paying rent, Harry has just $15 a day to live off, for all his food, transport, clothing and medication costs.

      $15 dollars a day for food, clothing transport and medication. That’s one cheap Tshirt from BigW, 1 kg potatos, a huge amount of vegetables, beans and fruit, pasta, milk and bread - and that’s Harry’s caloric intake and clothing - every single day. Do you have any idea how much food that is?

      Harry is not in any danger of starving or being without clothing anytime soon. He might have to give up the cigarettes though.

    • James1 says:

      02:00pm | 31/01/13

      “If poverty in Australia is a bad comparison then there is no need for the Salvos, Wesley missions, soup kitchens, homeless shelters etc. many of those living in abject poverty by Australian standards do not do so by choice.”

      You respond to things I never said.  Sure, it might not be totally a choice (but it mostly is), however, those people have at least $400 a fortnight more than African refugees.  I have lived in some of the poorest places in this country, and everyone I knew who needed such assistance smoked cigarettes.  Hardly “abject” poverty if you smoke nearly every day.  Like I said, they also have free health care, subsidised medicine, free education, free money, subsidised public transport, and a range of other things.  They are not living in absolute poverty, only relative poverty, which is an entirely different thing.  “Abject poverty” here translates at “top 10% of income earners” globally.

      Get some perspective.

    • Harquebus says:

      11:36am | 31/01/13

      Modern agriculture is the process of turning fossil fuel into food.
      “2,100 calories per person per day: the minimum average requirement to sustain a healthy life.”
      Peak oil mates, peak oil. The signs are there and large scale famine is only a matter of time. We are not going to be able to feed seven billion people and that’ s that. Population and economic growth is going to be the killer.

    • MK says:

      11:59am | 31/01/13

      take your peak oil and shove it where the sun dont shine

      Peak ooil this and peak oil that,
      Oil Gas coal tarands,
      new Gas,
      oil wa sued becasue it was cheap,
      coal was/is cheap
      there will be switch away from oil
      but the earth is not going to stop spinning

    • Gregg says:

      12:34pm | 31/01/13

      If the next Ice age or even sustained colder period comes along before peak oil, you’ll have even less mates about unless we have a heap of refugees from the NH you take in.
      There might just be a lot less mouths to feed then and also a lot less calories to go around and a taste for dog meat etc. developed more.

    • Harquebus says:

      01:02pm | 31/01/13

      @MK. If I am wrong, I will shove it. If I am right, you are going to watch billions starve to death. EROEI MK, EROEI. (energy returned on energy invested) Economies can not afford tar sands which, are just the dregs..

      “According to many scientists in this group, the recently observed stagnant oil production in the face of persistent and large oil price increases is a sign that physical scarcity of oil is already here, or at least imminent, and that it must eventually overwhelm the stimulative effects of higher prices.”
      The Future of Oil – Geology versus Technology:

      “Because the decline in supply is persistent, the real oil price continues to increase thereafter, as market equilibrium requires ongoing demand destruction.”
      Oil and the World Economy: Some Possible Futures:

    • chuck says:

      03:28pm | 31/01/13

      Yeah and you might take solace in knowing that we are the 4th biggest donor to Syrian refugees according to Bob Carr. This said a day after the Qld and Nth NSW floods and several after the Vic fires. I wonder how many Australians will not recover from these events but we must feel reassured knowing that we kow tow to the UN and UNHCR with many of its members recipients and NOT donors.

    • Frederika Steen says:

      04:21pm | 31/01/13

      Thanks for an informative insight into the UNHCR camps from where Immigration officers MAY select a few lucky people/families already determined for resettlement by UNHCR.

      Do we know how many of the thousands there are nominated by UNHCR for resettlement in a third country because they cannot safely return home? Is return or integration in the country of refuge a possibility for these people? 

      We must be clear that it is from these large pools of displaced people who have sought protection in these camps , that Australia selects candidates for resettlement as permanent residents ie as migrants . I think we should call such chosen refugees our “refugee migrants” , selected and arriving in an orderly migration program.

      Boat arriving or plane arriving asylum seekers at our borders are in a different ball park. If escaping death and persecution ( eg the Hazara Shia from Quetta) we are obligated to protect them and assess their claims of persecution. As you know, the majority of boat arriving Hazara, Tamil, Iraqi, ,Rohingyan and Iranians have been determined by our own officials to meet the refugee criteria of the UN Refugee Convention. A refugee is a refugee.

    • Don't Screw the World says:

      04:37pm | 31/01/13

      I am very happy to donate condoms or any other contraception - that’s the only way the world can overcome famine and poverty - and every country should strive for a sustainable population.

    • Ben says:

      04:44pm | 31/01/13

      Richard certainly is writing a lot of columns for The Punch lately.

      Is he putting out feelers for post-September 2013? Smart thinking, Richard!


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Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



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