Australia told of Indonesia's refugee concerns

Indonesian officials say Australia's change of policy on accepting refugees creating tension

Australia told of Indonesia's refugee concerns

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Indonesian government spoke of its concern Saturday over the strain in relations with Australia caused by a decision to cut the number of refugees it accepts from its southeast Asian neighbor, local media reported.

Yuri Thamrin, a senior Indonesian foreign ministry official, told ABC News that the policy change, which will see Australia reduce its intake of refugees and asylum seekers from Indonesia from 600 to 450 a year, had created tensions between the countries.

Thamrin, director general of the ministry’s Asia-Pacific division, said the unilateral statement by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, which included the announcement that Australia will no longer resettle people who registered with the UN in Jakarta after July 1, had led to him summoning Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia Greg Moriarity.

Thamrin reportedly told Moriarity the decision created “unnecessary misunderstanding” and “tension between the two countries.”

Thamrin also said the issue of "irregular movement of persons" is not an exclusively Australian issue but one that affects countries across the region.

According to the ABC, Thamrin implied that a more effective solution would be a "regional approach" rather than unilateral measures.

Indonesian Minister for Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly conceded the decision was “Australia’s right” but said the responsibility of looking after thousands of refugees and asylum seekers was a “burden.” He said his country could only accommodate 2,000.

Morrison has argued that the policy aims to prevent people smuggling and has referred to it as “taking the sugar off the table.”

The ABC reported that Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop did not say whether she discussed the policy with her Indonesian counterpart at last weekend's G20 summit but said Indonesian authorities were briefed on the plan.

Academic Dr Greg Fealy, an Indonesia analyst at the Australian National University, told the station that the policy switch fuelled Indonesian perceptions of Australians as selfish.

On Friday the Jakarta Post reported that Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi accused Australia of only considering its own interests and ignoring the situation in Indonesia.

 

Last Mod: 22 Kasım 2014, 12:17
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