An overcrowded boat, carrying Afghan, Iranian and Iraqi migrants from Indonesia to Australia could only reach to the depth of the sea after being capsized off the coast of east Java on Sunday, December 18, 2011. The reports say that there were more than 300 passengers in the boat, which was basically meant to carry only 100 passengers. There are different reports about the number of people who were saved and the ones who were missing; however, they almost agreed that more than 200 passengers were missing even hours after the incident.
According to the statement by Sahrul Arifin, head of emergency and logistics at the East Java Disaster Mitigation Center, 76 people of 380 people on board had been rescued. He said hours after the incident, "Our search and rescue team have begun sweeping the water around where the accident took place but we are now sending body bags." On the other hand, Hariyadi Purnomo, a Search and Rescue (SAR) spokesman in East Java believed that 217 passengers were missing and 33 people had been rescued.
He also mentioned, "Survivors are suffering from severe dehydration and exhaustion as they were floating in the middle of the sea approximately for 5 hours," and "We see no signs of further survivors or casualties and now we're focusing the search east of where the survivors were found yesterday.
Based on a statement from the victims, waves hit the side of the boat, breakiong it in half and then it capsized. Fishermen found them about 20 miles from the shore when the waves were as high as 2 to 3 meters (6 t0 9 feet)."
This accident is really very much unfortunate and shows how much the refugees are desperate to find a safer place. Most of them suffer so much instability and disorder in the places they live that they are ready to take any step to move towards the countries with better economic and social conditions to have better standard of living or to acquire the same for their children.
The issue of refugees is an international problem and needs proper attention from international community. The refugees who leave their homelands in search of better life, most of the times suffer different sorts of hardships before they reach somewhere safe.
Most of them even do not reach to the destination they set for as happened in the incident mentioned above. On most of the occasions they fall prey to the ill intentions of human-smugglers, who discriminate them as much as they can. Furthermore, they have to go through severe kind of psychological depression and strain as they go through the worst sort of experiences.
The growing discontent in different parts of the world has made the number of refugees and asylum seekers rise considerably. Currently, the crisis in Middle East and North African countries has compelled so many refugees to leave their countries and find refuge in European countries.
Apart from that there are many refugees who have travelled from Asian countries that suffer from conflicts, clashes and discriminations. Afghanistan is one of the most dominant countries in this regard. Decades of wars and terrorism along with droughts and shortages of basic requirements have compelled million of people to leave the country.
Though there has been remarkable decrease in this regard, million of Afghan refugees are still living their lives in neighboring countries (like Pakistan and Iran), European countries, Australia and America; while, there are thousand others who are still in different sorts of camps and detention centers around the world waiting for some sort of sympathy and attention.
The circumstances faced by these refugees are not always welcoming and they have to bear the brunt of different sorts of reactions. Though in some countries they are welcomed warmly, in others they are treated in a very cruel manner.
Australia has been one of the major countries that have been experiencing the influx of refugees. In deed there are thousand of refugees in Australia that have traveled from different parts of the world in search of secure life and better living standards.
Though there have been remarkable compensations made by the Australian authorities for the refugees, recently they have been facing certain difficulties and controversies regarding the compensation of the refugees.
There are thousand of refugees in refugee camps in Australia waiting for their destiny to be decided. There are thousand others who are in different islands near Australia and many others in the camps and detention centers in Indonesia ready to move to Australia through every possible way.
Australian government earlier this year decided to decrease the burden of the refugees by making an agreement with the Malaysian government, according to which, the refugees have to be transferred to camps in Malaysia.
This particular agreement has been very controversial since Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees. Moreover, many cases of violation of the human rights have been reported in the treatment of refugees in Malaysian detention centers.
Currently, Australian High Court has also rejected the plan of shipping about 800 boatpeople to Malaysia. It is of the view that the asylum seekers can not be sent to some other countries unless the country is compelled to adequately protect them.
Canberra in this regard has suffered a humiliating setback. UN secretary general, Ban Ki Mon, has also mentioned in his latest visit to Australia that UN has concerns regarding the treatment of refugees by Australian authorities.
Australian authorities in this regard have been under pressure from the citizens of country and opposition, especially from those who do not support movement of the refugees in the country. Furthermore, it has been of the view that its agreement with the Malaysian government, if followed, can be very much useful in controlling human-smugglers and discourage risky attempts by the refugees that may threaten their lives.
Moreover, they are of the view that the issue of the refugees is an international issue; therefore, all the countries of the world must share the burden of the refugees. Australia alone does not have the responsibility to compensate them.
Though Australian authorities through their stand may satisfy the pressure of the opposition and the anti-refugee sentiments in the country, they will, at the same time remain under international pressure as far as the human rights and the rights of the refugees are concerned. Furthermore, it will be difficult for them to keep the UN "concerned" as Canberra is striving for the membership of UN Security Council.
Definitely there are political and diplomatic concerns for all the governments of the world to consider, but the issue of refugees is more important than such concerns, as it involves the precious human lives and the lives of human beings stand more sacred than any other concern, belief or ideology.