Foreign aid and border protection

Our campaign draws attention to the significant alignment and overlap between the Australian foreign aid and border protection programs.

We focus on how:

  • Aid is used as a bargaining chip to further priorities of not accepting refugees, and offshore processing through increasing aid in PNG as a bargaining chip for the Manus Island refugee processing centre and PNG resettlement deal
  • Using aid as a bargaining chip to allow for genuine refugees to be settled in Cambodia
  • Using aid to stop refugees from fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka through the Sri Lanka 4 point plan
  • Using aid as a bargaining chip to encourage further cooperation with Indonesia

There should be no overlap between the aid program and the inhumane border protection policy. Australia’s mandatory detention, off-shore processing, and re-settlement outside Australia have no relation to reducing poverty. They are policies actively working to impoverish, marginalise, and increasing suffering and misery of people that deserve compassion and welcome.

Aid diversion

We also advocated strongly against the December 2012 decision by the previous Government to allocate $375 million in aid dollars on in-donor refugee costs. The expenses incurred by the government in relation to the living costs of asylum seekers processed in Australia should have nothing to do with its aid program.

The OECD guidelines allow for aid money to be allocated towards a country’s own costs of supporting refugees but they take for granted that an OECD country who is a signatory to the Refugee Convention is processing and accepting refugees in a compassionate, and timely way. Australia’s refugee policy is a punitive policy openly premised on treating asylum seekers as cruelly as possible to send a message to others fleeing persecution. We think that the irony of spending money meant to help people to support Australia’s most abhorrent policy makes a mockery of the aid program.

AID/WATCH strongly opposes the use of money from the aid budget being used to support the Government’s regressive and inhumane policies on asylum seekers.

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