Policy restricts refugees' rights

SANCTUARY Northern Rivers has saved the lives of hundreds of African families but recent policy has restricted their capacity to save more.

The refugee support organisation based in Lismore once received 150 requests a month from families living in horrendous conditions in African refugee camps asking to be sponsored to come to Australia.

But government immigration policy has hindered Sanctuary’s ability to help more than six refugee families a year.

“Approval has diminished and that is because of the political climate of the day,” Sanctuary Northern Rivers president Michael Douglas said.

“When approval is given to asylum seekers that is taken out of the visa approval numbers we give to our African refugees. I am all for people fleeing war-torn countries to seek refuge but that is the reality.”

The requests for help come from families living in horrendous conditions in refugee camps like Kakuma in Kenya where it is reported people are killed, raped and bashed once United Nations workers leave camps at night.

Sibomana Nzaramba and his family fled a raging civil war to seek refuge in Kenya but were too afraid to go to refugee camps.

“If we stayed there, there is only death,” he said.



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