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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2463 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

cases for a very long time.

I would like to take this opportunity to mention other case loads which are in the same condition as these people and in some cases worse. I am talking about refugee case loads in the Balkans. There are still Croatian Serbs in limbo in Serbia itself with no chance of returning to Krajina. Also, there are Bosnian Serbs in Serbia itself who cannot go home because their properties have been taken over by other people. The Serbian regime is reluctant to integrate them and give them residential status for the same sorts of reasons.

In the tri-border area of Somalia, Kenya and southern Sudan there is a massive number of refugee camps containing Christian Sudanese, Muslim Sudanese, Eritreans, Ethiopians, Christian and Muslim, and Somalis. There are massive camps in that area. My understanding is that a lot of those people have been there since 1995 when I was there. These people also look to Australia, the United States and other developed countries to take them in. I have talked about Eritreans. There are Somalis in Yemen who cannot cross over the Suez Gulf to go back home. There are Palestinians in Lebanon who have been there since 1967. We have all of those case loads to deal with. There are Kurds in northern Iraq who will not be able to go back into Turkey, and so on and so on.

Mr Speaker, we are as sympathetic with this case load as we are with all of the ones I have listed. We are certainly more sympathetic about this case load of people than we would be about people we would designate as economic emigres, people who understandably are moving round the world trying to get a better life and who become mixed up with and confused with refugee case loads. That is why we need to be very careful about determining who genuinely are either stateless people or are refugees who do need the assistance of a compassionate and well-organised country like Australia. There is a limit to what we can provide, so we have to make sure that the people we determine are the ones most deserving of our assistance.

I go on to say that many of the people I have referred to in those other camps need to be looked at. They are people who are well outside mainstream people movements. They are people who cannot purchase a passage for an economic movement north or south. I have called upon the Australian government a number of times and I continue to do so to be more vigorous in seeking out and identifying these sorts of refugee case loads-people stuck away in camps, particularly widows with children. In many cases, because of cultural requirements, a lot of the refugee widows with children are stuck in a position where they cannot marry and they cannot go home and link up with a family because that family cannot carry them. These are classic case loads of people that our government, the Canadians, the Americans and the North European governments have to be a little bit more vigorous about in going to, reaching out to and identifying special humanitarian cases to be brought into our countries.

They are not going to be able to contribute much economically to our countries in the first years, but that is something we have to accept. I think that we have this duty. I am quite satisfied that our government is proactive in this regard. I would just like to see it go perhaps the extra mile. I would like to see our refugee case load intake per year perhaps doubled so that we can embrace those people who have no hope of finding a life wherever they are now.

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