So which country has a 'refugee problem'?


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that the number of registered Syrian refugees in Lebanon had gone over 1 million. Half of these are children and most live in dire poverty.

"The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres in an April 3 statement.

Refugees from Syria now make up almost a quarter of the resident population. There are 400,000 school-age Syrian refugees in Lebanon, more than the number of Lebanese children in public schools.

"The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope," Guterres said. Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history."

About 600,000 Syrians have registered as refugees in Jordan and about 670,000 in Turkey.

Meanwhile in Australia, a wealthy country that bears a tiny fraction of the refugee burden, a cruel and shameless war against refugees continues unabated.

About 30,000 refugees and asylum seekers are detained indefinitely without trial in Australia and in Australian offshore detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. More than 1000 of these are children.

And the loathsome minister for immigration, Scott Morrison, is off to Cambodia to put more pressure on that desperately poor country to take refugees off rich Australian hands.

Australia's political establishment – under the Coalition or Labor – is a moral desert. More and more people realise this and are willing to take action.

The large numbers who turned out for vigils for Reza Berati, the 23-year-old asylum seeker brutally murdered in the Manus Island detention centre, and the March in March mobilisations attest to this.
Eight people arrested in Sydney on April 3 while trying to stop the forced relocation of refugees from the Villawood immigration detention centre to the remote Curtin detention centre in WA, are another example.

On April 13, a big Palm Sunday national mobilisation for refugee rights will take place in several cities, including Adelaide, Armidale, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

This is a time for everyone with a conscience to come out and be counted. Green Left Weekly will be doing everything it can to build the political momentum of the refugee rights movement, as it has since its inception in 1991.

You can help Green Left Weekly by ringing through through a donation to our fighting fund on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia) or make a donation online. Direct deposits can also be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007.

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