• On World Refugee Day, we held our first ever Twitter Q&A. Our experts, Lisa and Claire, answered your questions about refugees and people seeking asylum. Here’s an extended round-up of what was asked and how we answered.

    Question 1

    Lizzie G via Facebook: What is the difference between a refugee and some seeking asylum?

    Lisa and Claire: Seeking asylum is the step before being legally recognised as a refugee, but not all asylum seekers are recognised at refugees.

    Get a more detailed answer to this question in our 5-minute guide to refugees, people seeking asylum and IDPs

    Question 2

    Sarah via Twitter: Why do people come here by boat if they’re told not to?

    Lisa and Claire: People generally choose this path if they are desperate and have run out of other options to find a safe place to live.

    Question 3

    Brad via Twitter: What makes a legitimate refugee a queue jumper?

    Lisa and Claire: The rhetoric around queue jumping assumes that there’s an orderly process for being recognised as a refugee and then getting resettled somewhere. But, in the majority of cases, there’s no such orderly queue, particularly in this part of the world, and so effectively if people don’t take matters into their own hands, they could wait indefinitely in very dangerous situations until a solution turns up for them.

    So, queue jumping is based on a myth that there’s a well-established and orderly system for seeking asylum around the world. No such system currently exists.

    The Australian rhetoric would be that those people going on boats across the Mediterranean, or coming to Australia by boat, are queue jumpers. That you shouldn’t migrate without permission, you should wait until you’re invited, but where do you wait? How do you wait?

    Question 4

    Lyn via Facebook: Do you know the difference between genuine ones in need, and those posing as being in need to infiltrate, and to drain funds that otherwise would go to those ones in genuine need?

    Lisa and Claire: In Australia, the government has a process for assessing whether someone is a genuine refugee of not, it’s a very complex and time-consuming process and those who fail to establish they’re refugees under that process will be deported.

    And your refugee status can be revoked if it’s discovered that you were dishonest in your application.

    You have to prove persecution – there’s a legal definition, which is a difficult standard to meet. Showing you’re persecuted is a very hard process – you have to show that you fear persecution in your home country, and that it’s a well-founded fear, that it’s not just a subjective assessment. They ask for evidence, why do you fear persecution?

    Usually it’s because people are from a particular group, so it’s clear people are getting cleansed or there are human rights abuses.

    Refugees are subject to extremely rigorous security checks. Regular migrants, tourists, business travellers all face checks as do refugees, and the level of rigour applied to refugees is greater than that applied to people who come for other reasons. There’s no way that if you came here on holiday you would have to go through the same sort of rigmarole that you would have to go through if you’re a refugee.

    Question 5

    Christina via Twitter: How many refugees come to Australia every year?

    Lisa and Claire: The government quota for refugees and other humanitarian migrants was capped at 13,750 for 2015–16, it is 16,250 for 2017-18 and will increase to 18,750 for 2018–19.

    Question 6

    Christina via Twitter: How do you define an illegal vs legal refugee?

    Lisa and Claire: There is no such thing as an illegal refugee. When someone is a refugee, they have had to prove they have fled persecution.

    Question 7

    Youth Partnership via Twitter: What types of unique challenges do young people who are refugees face?

    Lisa and Claire: Education is something that jumps out. Being a refugee often means being unable to access education for years at a time. So, being out of school and then not being able to return to school the older they are because of the learning they’ve missed out on. And on top of that, the lack of opportunity to gain skills, vocational skills – a trade – that help you gain entry into employment.

    Adolescent girls who are out of school are also more likely to marry and have children early, which adversely impacts their prospects.

    There’s the unaccompanied minors aspect too. Sometimes children are forced to flee without their parents which exposes them to exploitation, abuse, violence and trafficking.

    Thanks to everyone who joined us for our first ever Twitter Q&A. Remember, you send us your questions at any time on Facebook and Twitter, by sending an email to info@savethechildren.org.au or by calling us on 1800 76 00 11 . Let’s keep the conversation going!

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