CAPSA Newsletter November 2021
Dear CAPSA Community,
As we all approach the end of the year, we hope you have the opportunity to take stock and recuperate after such a challenging time (and a challenging few years!).
One piece of positive news to share is that four asylum seekers who have been detained in Australia’s immigration detention system for over 9 years, were released into the community on bridging visas. Three men held at the Park Hotel APOD in Melbourne and one man held at MITA in Broadmeadows were granted freedom from indefinite detention on Saturday 13 November.
There are still 81 refugees and people seeking asylum who still remain arbitrarily detained. Therefore, the fight for their freedom must continue.
The CAPSA team
Fears for safety and health of detainees in Melbourne’s Park Hotel
- Over half of the detainees in Melbourne’s Park Hotel APOD have tested positive to COVID-19. As of 7 November, the 22 men who have contracted the virus have been ordered to stay within their rooms and isolate. There are reports that despite detainees testing positive, few of them have been assessed by a doctor and there has only been one nurse to care for the 45 men in detention.
- One detainee, who was sent to a Melbourne hospital to be treated for his worsening condition after contracting COVID-19, has now been sent back to the Park Hotel despite the worsening outbreak there.
- Over 200 organisations and individuals have signed a letter, coordinated by Love Makes A Way, demanding that the Federal Government address the health crisis in immigration detention and urgently release all detainees to safety in the community.
- An investigative piece on the treatment of refugees and people seeking asylum in the Park Hotel will be published this weekend in the Saturday Paper. Read it here.
Action for Afghanistan: 3 months since the fall of Kabul
- 15 November 2021 marked 3 months since the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. The Action for Afghanistan campaign has continued to advocate for people from Afghanistan affected by the current conflict.
- There are increasing fears for the safety of marginalised groups in Afghanistan, as reports emerge that the Taliban continues to target the Hazara and LGBTQIA+ community, as well as religious and political opponents. Regular bombs and shootings continue to occur throughout the country.
- International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has reported that tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan who have fled to Iran, are being sent back to the danger they left. In the last week of October alone, 28,000 refugees were sent back over the Afghan border.
- The Victorian Government announced almost $1 million in funding for Refugee Legal, to help resource an Afghanistan Legal Hotline and Legal Clinic. These funds will help to support 1,500 refugees in Victoria.
- Muzafar Ali, who recently gave evidence at the Senate Inquiry into Afghanistan, provides his perspective on the key protection challenges facing people in Afghanistan in a reflective piece available through the JRS Australia website.
Lack of action on climate-induced displacement at COP26
- Spanning over two weeks, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) brought together delegates, experts and activists from around the world to discuss climate change and our global response to it. Unfortunately, sufficient actions were not taken by delegates to address climate-induced displacement.
- In 2020 alone, over 30 million people were internally displaced by climate change disasters. Recently, Jesuit Social Services reflected on the issue of climate-induced displacement and why this is an urgent issue of ecological justice on their online blog.
- The climate emergency is already impacting refugees, people seeking asylum, and displaced and stateless people. Over 70% of internally displaced people who are displaced by conflict and supported by the UNHCR, are from countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Other News and Updates
- A coroner has found that Omid Masoumali, a refugee detained in Nauru who set himself on fire as a form of protest in 2016, would have had a 95% chance of survival if he had been properly cared for or was transferred to an Australian hospital. His death came two months following an Australian Defence Force medical report that noted the Nauruan facilities were ‘ill-equipped’.
- Over 4,000 migrants are caught in a border dispute between Belarus and Poland. This tension comes as Poland recently passed legislation that authorised the government to turn people seeking asylum back at their border.
- The UN has reported that 11,000 people have fled to Uganda, escaping conflict occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This constituted the largest single-day surge of refugees into Uganda in more than a year; a country that already hosts the highest number of refugees in Africa.
Upcoming Events and Actions
- The Australian Red Cross and Centre for Humanitarian Leadership have hosted a range of online forums discussing humanitarian work in the Afghanistan crisis, see the next upcoming session below:
- The impact of sanctions on humanitarian action – 2-4pm 7 December
- The Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA) Group Mentorship Program offers the opportunity for a local group to provide support and friendship to a newly arrived refugee household. The final deadline to lodge a group application for this year’s intake is Friday 10 December. You can watch a pre-recorded information session here. For more information visit the CRSA website.
- Seeking Asylum: Our Stories – captures the lives and stories of people who have a lived experience of seeking asylum and how they came to be in Australia. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is set to release this new book on 27 November 2021. Read about it here.
- The Refugee Council has put together an online list of books written by refugees and people seeking asylum, you can check out the list here.
- If you haven’t had the chance yet to read it, head to the CAPSA website to read Andrew Hamilton SJ’s powerful piece ‘People in the headlines today, disappear tomorrow’. He reflects on the Australian Government’s decision to end offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and their continued lack of support for refugees fleeing Afghanistan.
- Flee – a powerful documentary that tells the true story of a gay Afghan refugee who escaped persecution to find freedom in Denmark. Currently showing at the Sundance Film Festival, and set to be released later this year. Review and trailer here.
- Limbo – a quirky film that considers the refugee experience from a different angle. Limbo follows a group of refugees who are seeking community and a new life on a remote Scottish island. The film is soon to be released in Australia. Review and trailer here.
- Set Me Free – a newly released album from Kenya Wilkins (musician and composer) and Jalal Mahamede (poet, artist and refugee). It is a musical setting to 13 poems from Jalal who has been detained in Australia’s immigration detention system for over 9 years, including on Nauru and Christmas Island, and is currently being held in a Brisbane detention centre. The album is launching in person in Sydney at Lazy Bones Lounge, Brisbane at West End Uniting Church and online at 7-9pm, Wednesday 17th November.