Sydney (Agenzia Fides) - "The announcement that the government will introduce a new measure prohibiting refugees, who have arrived in Australia by boat since 19 July 2013, to apply for a visa, is deeply disappointing. To search for asylum is not illegal. It is a fundamental human right. Yet the government will prohibit them forever to come here": says Bishop Vincent Long, President of the Commission for Refugees of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Australia, expressing the feelings of the Bishops in the face of Australian government policies on the issue of refugees and migrants.
The Bishop said in a statement sent to Fides: "The reasons for these measures, in the light of the current situation on Manus Island and Nauru Islands (where Australia has detention camps for migrants, ed), and of bigger challenges that Australia faces, are questionable. The international community was shocked by the news about the conditions in which asylum seekers are living in those detention camps.
To further punish a small number of people who came by sea, although they do not meet the requirements of the definition of 'refugee' is deliberately cruel and non-Australian. It betrays tradition, the status and character of the country that we are: proud to be a country rich in resources with a big heart toward migrants and refugees".
Expressing the position of the Conference of Bishops, the note concludes: "I urge all Australians to reject these cruel and unnecessary measures. We need to build a more just, humane and effective society in dealing with the complex issues of asylum seekers and protection of refugees. Inflicting pain on a small group of people who have not caused any damage is not worthy of all Australians". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 07/11/2016)