War, famine and drought cause many people to uproot themselves and head for somewhere where the pursuit of happiness isn’t just a bad joke. Many of these refugees face persecution, death and torture back home. Putting aside the moral implications of choosing whether or not to help asylum seekers, many countries are overwhelmed by the cultural and economic implications and have taken the approach of pawning off asylum seekers on whoever will take them, for good or ill.
10. Australia’s Orange Lifeboats
Australia receives a lot of refugees by boat and plane every year, and the country has created island detention centers to process their claims. These centers are often horror shows that aren’t adequately set up. The Australian government has been experimenting with different strategies to deter an influx of refugees they feel unprepared to handle, but the favored technique is to stop boats at sea and send them back before they can even reach the mainland. To do this, they invested in high quality orange lifeboats.
A group of over 150 Tamil had been trying to seek refuge in Australia when they were caught by a customs boat. Barely able to understand English, they were briefly taught a few things about using the aforementioned lifeboats, shown a map, and told that they were to get in the boats and head right back to India to face possible persecution – a five hour journey. The Tamil refugees were terrified, as most didn’t have experience at sea, and they ended up at one of Australia’s detention centers instead. There they were able to take their complaint to court, where they also allege that they were separated from their children for days and were generally abused.
Australia has also been under fire in recent years for sending back Sri Lankan refugees to what will almost certainly be terrible treatment from the government they were trying to escape. Recently a group of 37 were sent back and immediately arrested. To make matters worse, Australia decided to determine these people’s refugee status at sea, without taking the time to vet them properly.
9. Europe’s Asylum Hot Potato
Europe also has more than a bit of an immigration problem, and many European countries don’t want to deal with it. When someone comes to Europe as an immigrant seeking refugee status, they often have to pass through, stay or seek asylum in multiple countries. A complicated system emerged for passing the buck — called the Dublin System, it essentially states that a country can send a person back to whichever country in Europe they first sought asylum, as long as that country isn’t likely to abuse the person’s human rights. Asylum seekers therefore often end up bounced all over Europe trying to find a place to escape from the regime they’re fleeing.
For the most part the system should work, but Greece is a weak link in the chain. While no one is sent directly to Greece due to concerns about the country sending back asylum seekers, countries across Europe will send their refugees to Hungary, who’s happy to send them to Serbia, who will help them find their way to Greece. After that, the refugees often end up right back in their country of origin, but with more problems than when they left.
8. Sri Lanka Sends Back Scores Of Refugees
Many countries have signed a UN agreement to provide a certain modicum of support for people who are truly seeking asylum and would be tortured and killed in their own country — Sri Lanka is not one of the signatories. However, despite the fact that they’re hardly known for human rights, this hasn’t stopped refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan from entering Sri Lanka in the hopes of finding something that’s better than the home where they’re persecuted for their religion or ethnicity.
Apart from simply not bothering to take care of the refugees, the Sri Lankan government has turned a blind eye to violence directed against asylum seekers. The government has made it a continual habit to send people back to their fates, even if mass arrests are necessary. Many human rights groups have decried this behavior as there’s little but pain and suffering awaiting those sent back, but the government of Sri Lanka maintains that the responsibility is not theirs. In fact, they blamed one wave of immigrants for an outbreak of malaria.
7. Homosexual Asylum Seekers Have It Bad
A United Kingdom immigration report showed that 98% of homosexual asylum seekers were sent right back to their country of origin. The same report showed that the average rate of all people sent back was about 75%, which means that there’s certainly a level of discrimination. The report explains that interviewers are not trained to ask the right questions, and refugees are often not believed.
However, there’s plenty of reasons for these claims to be taken seriously. In many parts of Africa, being gay is still very much a punishable offense. If you’re lucky, you’ll just go to prison or a labor camp for a few years. If you’re unlucky you’ll be sent back to a country like Uganda, which not long ago tried to pass a bill that would institute the death penalty for being gay. The final bill only demands life in prison, still more than enough of a reason to take claims of asylum based on sexuality seriously.
6. Hondurans Sent Back By the United States
Immigration in the United States is a divisive issue, and to compound the matter many people don’t realize the brutal reality of the situation. While some people who seek to make their way across Americans borders simply seek a better life, others are running from terrifying conditions. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t have the greatest system in place for making sure that deportees aren’t being sent right back into the fire.
Many refugees trying to make their way across the border are from Honduras. Honduras is beset by gang violence and drug cartel influence, and it also has one of the highest murder rates in the world. While American border patrol agents are supposed to grant extra interviews and attention to people who claim asylum for safety reasons, this is often not followed up on properly. A non-government report found that most Hondurans were being deported without any help, and that only 2% were given an interview when they claimed need.
5. The Hazara Are Sent Back By Australia
The Hazara hail from Afghanistan and make up a fairly sizable ethnic group within the country. Unfortunately, they’re often the target of radical groups like the Taliban. Many Hazara have left the country in the hope of a better life, and some made their way to Australia, where things were looking up until the government started deporting them.
As the deportations began, human rights groups and protesters took up the cause. Afghanistan still isn’t even close to a stable region, and it was fairly obvious that no one heading back was going to have a safe time. Despite the first man sent back being killed almost immediately upon his return, Australia has continued to go ahead and send Hazara back to what is quite likely torture and death.
4. Israel Sends Asylum Seekers Back To Africa
As we mentioned earlier, Uganda’s strict anti-homosexuality laws made many gay people want to flee the country. If you’re a gay asylum seeker, you probably don’t want to be anywhere near Israel — the country has taken to holding the immigrants it’s received from around Africa and keeping them forcibly detained for later deportation. Regardless of what country detained refugees have come from, Israel worked out a deal with Uganda to pawn off their refugees in return for deals on military hardware for Uganda. Considering Uganda’s abysmal human rights record, this raises serious concerns.
3. China Helps North Korea Punish Dissidents
There’s been a steady stream of North Koreans sneaking out of the country to make their way to a better life in South Korea. Unfortunately, the path to South Korea goes through China, which has a deal with North Korea to help them repatriate any North Koreans found within their border.
Many countries, South Korea especially, have become increasingly critical of China’s support of North Korea’s abuse of its own people. South Korea argue that North Koreans who run away from their country are automatically considered traitors, and subjected to horrible abuse upon their repatriation. Leaders from South Korea and China met in an attempt to resolve the issue, as China finds itself trying to satisfy their ally North Korea and the world community at the same time. Unfortunately, no solution has been found, and many innocent North Koreans are sent back to a horrible lifetime of punishment and hard labor.
2. Japan Doesn’t Like To Accept Refugees
Many Kurdish people living in Turkey face discrimination, and for some it’s bad enough that they seek a new life. One Kurdish man made it to Japan with his family, but his wife and children went back home after the events of Fukushima. The man himself stayed because he felt he would be in danger if he returned. He told the Japanese that he had been tortured in Turkey, and that his house had been destroyed by the government. The Japanese authorities refused his appeals.
This isn’t the first time that Japan sent Kurdish people back to Turkey, and it probably won’t be the last. They’re one of the least likely countries to accept refugees, and even if they grant you asylum you may wish they hadn’t — their process is strict. In the rare cases that they do let refugees stay, they grant them a permanent residency but not actual citizenship or true refugee status. These refugees are given a small amount of money by the government, but only for the first few months. That would be fine if the intent was to get them on their feet, but they’re not allowed to have jobs or do most other things that are important for being a functioning member of society. Japan has made clear that they may let you stay for a while if you need help, but they’re unlikely to ever accept you as part of their society.
1. The United Kingdom Sends Back Somalian Refugees
Somalia is infamous for being one of the most impoverished and dangerous places in the world. We’ve all seen the news stories about modern day piracy, and some Somalis have had quite enough of the sad state of affairs in their country. They’ve made their way to the UK rather than resort to piracy, and they find that they’re not wanted. It seems odd that asylum seekers are being sent back to a country with such a deplorable record of human rights, but some Westerners believe that the capital city of Mogadishu is stable enough to start sending back excess refugees.
Human rights groups called shenanigans, stating that Somalia was nowhere near safe enough. This is punctuated by some who were interviewed after being sent back — one man was searched and accused of spying upon his return, and he’s afraid that he may soon be killed. Another woman was deported back without the children she had left behind in a staging camp in Kenya. While the authorities are working to address the matter, one has to wonder how it happened in the first place.