My African neighbour

Sat and talked with my downstairs neighbour D this morning. He is studying at Wollongong TAFE and lived five years in Surry Hills before coming to The Bates Motel.

He came to Australia via Uganda, but is originally from Southern Sudan.

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Figures from this time last year say that Uganda hosts about 100,000 refugees from Rwanda, Ethopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan. They live in various refugee camps scattered all over the country.

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Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why on earth are we getting so uptight about 5-6000 “boat arrivals”?

On the other hand, maybe the people here aren’t all paranoid. Last Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald had a poll showing that “the government’s decision last week to allow asylum seeker families with children to live in the community while their claims are processed is supported by 47 per cent of voters, while 50 per cent are opposed. The decision to let the families out of detention was announced on Monday last week.”

D likes Wollongong better than Sydney; it’s more laid back and the people are more friendly.

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6 thoughts on “My African neighbour

  1. I had neighbours from Sudan back in my last residence (2007). They were easily the best neighbours I had there, and their frequent, numerous visitors were very conscientious – never saw such a lively yet non-disruptive crowd before.

    We had a concentrated influx of immigrants in that part of town, which to my eye seemed to go quite smoothly for the most part.

    You’d have the occasional incident with young guys, which people would beat up in the local rag, yet none of the people complaining could come up with any statistics to back up their moral panic. They prattled on as if the area had never seen young white teenagers acting up in the same way before, which as a former white teenager from the area, I can tell you is quite wrong.

    A few too many people need to get over their bizarre fears about new Australians, be a bit more thankful for their often comparatively good luck, and just get on with enjoying their finite time on (such a nice part of) this Earth.

  2. “Figures from this time last year say that Uganda hosts about 100,000 refugees from Rwanda, Ethopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya and Sudan. They live in various refugee camps scattered all over the country. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why on earth are we getting so uptight about 5-6000 “boat arrivals”? “

    I guess it does, if you think Uganda is as wonderful a place to live as Australia. If you believe that, then emulating them is an excellent idea.

    *sigh* Neil, you come up with these huggy feely ideas, but you just don’t think them through to their logical conclusion:(. It’s quite frustrating to at least one of your part-time readers.

  3. My point, Kevin, is that Australia hardly has an asylum seeker problem compared with most other countries, and much of our highly expensive responses to the issue are not really justifiable. On the Howard years see What’s a billion dollars, mate? and the page linked to the end of that post.

    Nowhere have I said anything about Uganda being “as wonderful a place to live as Australia”. I really don’t know how you came to that conclusion.

  4. I understood you. You didn’t seem to understand me. You said something similar to , “Mozambique had 100,000 cases of malaria last year. Why on Earth are we in Australia getting uptight about a mere 5-6,000 cases?”

    I don’t want to get too philosophical on you, Neil, but – when your neighboring countries export refugees, then your neighboring countries have a disease. When you accept the refugees, you accept the disease and promote its spread as Uganda well knows, much to its chagrin.

    Nowhere have I said anything about Uganda being “as wonderful a place to live as Australia”. I really don’t know how you came to that conclusion.

    In fact, I was quite hopeful that you DIDN’T think that. I only made the connection because you suggested with twisted logic that since the almost destitute country of Uganda continues to destroy itself from the inside by accepting as many as 100,000 people who don’t support Uganda, then perhaps Australia should take 5 or 6 thousand.

    There is simply no good reason to do this. Perhaps you could airdrop them to Uganda. Things are going so well over there, right?

  5. Keep your eye out for a future post on refugees and asylum seekers. Australia takes just a set number every year, I should add, regardless of whether they swim, fly, walk, or come by boat. The “boat people” don’t change that number. People forget that, though there is an argument about whether it is fair that accepted “boat people” replace people still in refugee camps who are therefore left to wait longer.

    We have been accepting refugees in this country for over 60 years; we wouldn’t have our present population or indeed economic health without them.

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