Senate debates

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Questions without Notice

Asylum Seekers

2:19 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Smith for his ongoing interest in border protection. It is a fact that Australia runs one of the most generous humanitarian settlement programs globally. However, the sad truth is that, in any one year, less than one per cent of the world's 10.5 million refugees will be resettled. In any one year, over nine million people will miss out.

Let me relate to the Senate but one story, that of a 10-year-old refugee, as reported by the UNHCR. This 10-year-old refugee and the millions like her are the ones that the former Labor-Greens government deliberately turned their backs on when they dismantled the former Howard government's strong border protection policies. This is the story of Halima from Somalia:

"One morning my mother took me, my sister and my baby brother and left our house. It took us three weeks to walk here."

Holding her baby brother, 10-year-old Halima queues to receive her vaccinations at the Liboi Reception Centre for Somali refugees on the Kenyan/Somali border.

…   …   …

It took us three weeks to walk here. My mum carried some food and we also begged in the villages we passed. We got here two days ago. They have taken our names and given us food. We have to wait here for about a week for our papers to be checked and then a truck is coming to take us to our new home. My sandals broke on the way here. I am wishing for new sandals."

Halima and her family are now living with some 280,000 Somalis in three massive refugee camps in the Dadaab region of eastern Kenya.

The places in our humanitarian program are precious, and that is why this government will restore integrity on our borders.


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