Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, May 24th, 2020

The Cost of a Better Life

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The Cost of a Better Life

A boat carrying about 200 asylum-seekers to Australia's Christmas Island was drowned on Thursday, June 20, 120 nautical miles away from the Island. The reports suggest that at least three dead bodies were found from the wreckage along with 110 survivors, while the rest of the people are still lost. There are fears that a large number of people have died in the incident.

Western Australia State Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan was reported to have said, "There's about 40 on the hull and the rest are in the water…. Some of the very early reports suggest that up to 75 people may have drowned, but I do stress that they're unconfirmed at this stage."

The spokeswoman from Australia's Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said, "We have 110 survivors and three confirmed dead so far… The survivors have arrived at Christmas Island. They were rescued wearing life jackets and we are quite confident we will recover more survivors."

The incident is really very unfortunate and adds to the hundreds of lives lost in such journeys. Last year in December, about 200 people lost their lives in a similar incident. The desperate asylum-seekers mostly from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan use Indonesia as the transit point and try to reach the Christmas Island so as to reach Australia afterwards. However, the origin of the passengers on Thursday's boat is not confirmed yet. Moreover, there have been few incidents wherein the asylum-seekers have moved from Sri Lanka to Australia, but such journeys are rare. Nonetheless, the relevant authorities report that there have been rise in such attempts from Sri Lanka, as well.

As such journeys are illegal and desperate; they involve the use of insufficient facilities. The boats used in them are in a very bad condition and they are not recommended for such types of journeys. Moreover, they are over-crowded, as well. A boat that can bear the load of only 100 people is used to load 200-250 people, which means the possibility that it will drown is maximum. On certain occasions, the passengers are able to save themselves by the use of life-jackets but on certain other occasions, even life-jackets cannot save them as the rescue team may take a long time to reach them. Most of the times, the wrecked boats are only discovered by some other boats or ships that pass by them.

It is important to note that it is not the only route that is used by the refugees or asylum-seekers, there are many other routes as well that are used to reach different countries of the world. In fact, it is an international problem and requires attention by the international organizations and major powers in the world.

It is mostly observed that 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 do not even 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 inthis regard. Decades of wars and terrorism along with droughts and shortages of basic requirements have compelled millions of people to leave the country.

Though there has been remarkable decrease in this regard, millions 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 thousands 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 thousands 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 last year decided to decrease the burden of the refugees by making an agreement with the Malaysian government, according to which, the refugees had to be transferred to camps in Malaysia.

This particular agreement was very controversial and could not gain much favor since Malaysia was 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.Australian High Court in a case came up with the view that the asylum seekers could not be sent to some other countries unless the country was compelled to adequately protect them.

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. Therefore, they have been trying to decrease the influx of refugees in some way or the other.

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.

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.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at dilawar.sherzai@gmail.com

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